I took this picture this morning 8 June 2021 at 5:50 local time (Malta is UTC/GMT +2 hours).

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I've identified as best I could the points in the picture on Google Maps.

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Also I identified the buildings at the bottom of the picture on Google Maps.

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Question The camera is pointing into an easterly direction. But the sun still seems to be slight north. As Malta is in the northern hemisphere I was expecting the sun to be slightly south. What am I missing?


  1. I am not sure if I identified the church at 1 correctly. The church is just below the left most tip of the construction crane.
  2. I am not sure of the position of the hill at 2.
  3. I am expecting the water tower at 4 to be left of 3 (the harbour cranes). But there is only 1 water tower in that area (afaik).

I manipulated the original image. I adjusted brightness and contrast.

  • 1
    Do you know what the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn mean? Malta is north of the Tropic of Cancer, so the sun will never be directly overhead, much less north of due east/west.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 8, 2021 at 14:01
  • 9
    Jon - the sun doesn't need to be directly overhead to be north of a location in the northern hemisphere. I live quite far north, not too far from the Arctic Circle, and in the middle of the summer the sun goes down just west of north, for an hour or so, before it pops up just east of north.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 8, 2021 at 16:25
  • 2
    Think about it: the further north you are, the more northerly are the sunrise and sunset points on the horizon, and north of the Arctic Circle the sun does not set (or rise) at all, for several months. Jun 8, 2021 at 16:37
  • 4
    @JonCuster, being north of the Tropic of Cancer just means the Sun will never be directly overhead. It places no other restrictions on the Sun's path through the sky.
    – Mark
    Jun 8, 2021 at 22:12
  • The web site photoephemeris.com/en has useful tools that show where the Sun will be at a particular time; playing around with it might help you get an intuition for how the Sun appears to move from day to day. Jun 8, 2021 at 22:52

2 Answers 2


During the summer, days are longer. We are now about 2 weeks away from the longest day. A day gets longer by the sun rising north-easterly and setting north-westerly.

The degree of northerness will depend on where you are. The closer to the equator the less pronounced the differences are. You can use a sun calculator for visualization. For Malta specifically this is not just "slightly" northern but currently rather like 30 degrees


The short answer is because it's summer in the northern hemisphere.

The sun is over the horizon for more than 1/2 of each 24 hour rotation of the earth, so it has to be visible north of east at sunrise and/or north of west at sunset.

Timeanddate.com for Valetta gives you a plot, and says that at 05:50 local time today, the sun really was at 62°, i.e. ENE. Their day length display gives you the sun rise/set times throughout the year; you can see how much they change.

A very interesting book with a section covering this is Finding your Way without Map or Compass by Harold Gatty. In particular it has tables to help you find north given time, date, latitude and the sun; chapter 23 discusses their use in navigation, though not much about the reasoning

Note that summer (daylight saving) time is unhelpful when trying to work these things out, as is UTC. What matters is the local solar time for your longitude. I'm about 12 minutes behind UTC; that's 1/5 of an hour or 2.5°, as the earth rotates/sun moves through the sky at 15° per hour (near enough; the earth's orbit means it's a bit more complicated). Counterintuitively, but entirely predictably from the tilt of the earth's axis, the sun doesn't get to due east until 09:20 today, and Valletta is near enough 15°E so 1 hour ahead of UTC (which is very close to solar time at 0°, i.e. Greenwich). Taking into account summer time, that's a local solar time of about 08:20, later than the 06:00 I'd naively expect.

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