We stumbled across an incredibly useful tool that allows you to calculate the path of the sun on any given day of the year based on your latitude.

This tool, part of the The Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project (NAAP), will even give really geeky data like the sun’s altitude and azimuth, and allows you to animate the cycles of the sun!

Using the tool, we can plug in our latitude (roughly 43N here in Portland, Maine), program the day to February 15, set ourselves facing south and voila!

We have a beautiful view of what the sun is going to be doing today:

Solar Insolation in Portland Maine, February

This illustrates beautifully why all we suggest for solar is a roof that is relatively unshaded from 9AM – 3PM… look at all that sun!

When we do an on-site solar evaluation, we figure out whether your house has a good orientation to capture all of this solar energy.

The solar pathfinder tool superimposes a view of the sky facing south from your house onto a guide of the sun’s arc in the sky.

Shaded areas tell us what time of day and what time of year that the sun is being blocked, so we can easily tell you whether you have ample sun or should maybe take out a tree or two.

You can also see an example of the solar potential of Maine by changing your latitude to 51 degrees N, that of Germany’s, the world leader in solar installations (see more of our discussion about Maine’s solar potential).

Look at how much lower the sun sits in the horizon!

Solar Insolation in Germany

Find this kind of thing fun? Try out the Motions of the Sun Simulator for yourself.

Also check out ClassAction, a wealth of information about the earth, sun, moon, and cosmo geared towards teaching astronomy.

For instance, they have a tool that allows you to calculate day length based on latitude and time of year.

Did you know that mid-February has as much sun as late October, and about 25% more daylight than the winter Solstice?

It only gets brighter from here!