Local mean time

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The equation of time -- above the axis a sundial will appear fast relative to a clock showing local mean time, and below the axis a sundial will appear slow. Equation of time.svg
The equation of time — above the axis a sundial will appear fast relative to a clock showing local mean time, and below the axis a sundial will appear slow.

Local mean time (LMT) is a form of solar time that corrects the variations of local apparent time, forming a uniform time scale at a specific longitude. This measurement of time was used for everyday use during the 19th century before time zones were introduced beginning in the late 19th century; it still has some uses in astronomy and navigation. [1]


The difference between local mean time and local apparent time is the equation of time.

Past use

Local mean time was used from the early 19th century, when local solar time or sundial time was last used until standard time was adopted on various dates in the several countries. Each town or city kept its own meridian. This led to a situation where locations one degree of longitude apart had times four minutes apart. [2] This became a problem in the mid 19th century when railways needed clocks for railway time that were synchronized between stations, while local people needed to match their clock (or the church clock) to the time tables. Standard time means that the same time is used throughout some regional time zone—usually, it is at an offset from Greenwich Mean Time or the local mean time of the capital of the region.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greenwich Mean Time</span> Time zone of Western Europe, same as WET

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, counted from midnight. At different times in the past, it has been calculated in different ways, including being calculated from noon; as a consequence, it cannot be used to specify a particular time unless a context is given. The term 'GMT' is also used as one of the names for the time zone UTC+00:00 and, in UK law, is the basis for civil time in the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time zone</span> Area that observes a uniform standard time

A time zone is an area which observes a uniform standard time for legal, commercial and social purposes. Time zones tend to follow the boundaries between countries and their subdivisions instead of strictly following longitude, because it is convenient for areas in frequent communication to keep the same time.

A time standard is a specification for measuring time: either the rate at which time passes or points in time or both. In modern times, several time specifications have been officially recognized as standards, where formerly they were matters of custom and practice. An example of a kind of time standard can be a time scale, specifying a method for measuring divisions of time. A standard for civil time can specify both time intervals and time-of-day.

Universal Time is a time standard based on Earth's rotation. While originally it was mean solar time at 0° longitude, precise measurements of the Sun are difficult. Therefore, UT1 is computed from a measure of the Earth's angle with respect to the International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF), called the Earth Rotation Angle. UT1 is the same everywhere on Earth. UT1 is required to follow the relationship

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Solar time</span> Calculation of elapsed time by the apparent position of the sun

Solar time is a calculation of the passage of time based on the position of the Sun in the sky. The fundamental unit of solar time is the day, based on the synodic rotation period. Traditionally, there are three types of time reckoning based on astronomical observations: apparent solar time and mean solar time, and sidereal time, which is based on the apparent motions of stars other than the Sun.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">International Meridian Conference</span> 1884 conference in Washington, D.C., United States

The International Meridian Conference was a conference held in October 1884 in Washington, D.C., in the United States, to determine a prime meridian for international use. The conference was held at the request of U.S. President Chester A. Arthur. The subject to discuss was the choice of "a meridian to be employed as a common zero of longitude and standard of time reckoning throughout the world". It resulted in the recommendation of the Greenwich Meridian as the international standard for zero degrees longitude.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Noon</span> 12 oclock in the daytime

Noon is 12 o'clock in the daytime. It is written as 12 noon, 12:00 m., 12 p.m., 12 pm, or 12:00 or 1200 . Solar noon is the time when the Sun appears to contact the local celestial meridian. This is when the Sun reaches its apparent highest point in the sky, at 12 noon apparent solar time and can be observed using a sundial. The local or clock time of solar noon depends on the longitude and date, with Daylight Saving Time tending to place solar noon closer to 1:00pm.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Equation of time</span> Apparent solar time minus mean solar time

The equation of time describes the discrepancy between two kinds of solar time. The word equation is used in the medieval sense of "reconciliation of a difference". The two times that differ are the apparent solar time, which directly tracks the diurnal motion of the Sun, and mean solar time, which tracks a theoretical mean Sun with uniform motion along the celestial equator. Apparent solar time can be obtained by measurement of the current position of the Sun, as indicated by a sundial. Mean solar time, for the same place, would be the time indicated by a steady clock set so that over the year its differences from apparent solar time would have a mean of zero.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alaska Time Zone</span> Time zone in Alaska

The Alaska Time Zone observes standard time by subtracting nine hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC−09:00). During daylight saving time its time offset is eight hours (UTC−08:00). The clock time in this zone is based on mean solar time at the 135th meridian west of the Greenwich Observatory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in the United States</span> U.S. time zones

In the United States, time is divided into nine standard time zones covering the states, territories and other US possessions, with most of the country observing daylight saving time (DST) for approximately the spring, summer, and fall months. The time zone boundaries and DST observance are regulated by the Department of Transportation, but no single map of those existed until the agency announced intentions to make one in September 2022. Official and highly precise timekeeping services (clocks) are provided by two federal agencies: the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ; and the United States Naval Observatory (USNO). The clocks run by these services are kept synchronized with each other as well as with those of other international timekeeping organizations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Meridian (geography)</span> Line between the poles with the same longitude

In geography and geodesy, a meridian is the locus connecting points of equal longitude, which is the angle east or west of a given prime meridian. In other words, it is a line of longitude. The position of a point along the meridian is given by that longitude and its latitude, measured in angular degrees north or south of the Equator. On a Mercator projection or on a Gall-Peters projection, each meridian is perpendicular to all circles of latitude. A meridian is half of a great circle on Earth's surface. The length of a meridian on a modern ellipsoid model of Earth has been estimated as 20,003.93 km (12,429.87 mi).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Standard time</span> Synchronization of clocks within a geographical region

Standard time is the synchronization of clocks within a geographical region to a single time standard, rather than a local mean time standard. Generally, standard time agrees with the local mean time at some meridian that passes through the region, often near the centre of the region. Historically, standard time was established during the 19th century to aid weather forecasting and train travel. Applied globally in the 20th century, the geographical regions became time zones. The standard time in each time zone has come to be defined as an offset from Universal Time. A further offset is applied for part of the year in regions with daylight saving time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timekeeping on Mars</span> Proposed approaches to tracking date and time on the planet Mars

Though no standard exists, numerous calendars and other timekeeping approaches have been proposed for the planet Mars. The most commonly seen in the scientific literature denotes the time of year as the number of degrees on its orbit from the northward equinox, and increasingly there is use of numbering the Martian years beginning at the equinox that occurred April 11, 1955.

The time in China follows a single standard time offset of UTC+08:00, even though the country spans almost five geographical time zones. The official national standard time is called Beijing Time domestically and China Standard Time (CST) internationally. Daylight saving time has not been observed since 1991. China Standard Time (UTC+8) is consistent across Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Mongolia, etc.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in Norway</span> Overview of the time zones used in Norway

In Norway the standard time is the Central European Time (CET). Norway observes Summer Time. The transition dates are the same as for other European countries.

Nautical time is a maritime time standard established in the 1920s to allow ships on high seas to coordinate their local time with other ships, consistent with a long nautical tradition of accurate celestial navigation. Nautical time divides the globe into 24 nautical time zones with hourly clock offsets, spaced at 15 degrees by longitudinal coordinate, with no political deviation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Railway time</span> Time scale for rail transport

Railway time was the standardised time arrangement first applied by the Great Western Railway in England in November 1840, the first recorded occasion when different local mean times were synchronised and a single standard time applied. The key goals behind introducing railway time were to overcome the confusion caused by having non-uniform local times in each town and station stop along the expanding railway network and to reduce the incidence of accidents and near misses, which were becoming more frequent as the number of train journeys increased.

A tropical year or solar year is the time that the Sun takes to return to the same position in the sky of a celestial body of the Solar System such as the Earth, completing a full cycle of seasons; for example, the time from vernal equinox to vernal equinox, or from summer solstice to summer solstice. It is the type of year used by tropical solar calendars. The solar year is one type of astronomical year and particular orbital period. Another type is the sidereal year, which is the time it takes Earth to complete one full orbit around the Sun as measured with respect to the fixed stars, resulting in a duration of 20 minutes longer than the tropical year, because of the precession of the equinoxes.

Time in the Kingdom of the Netherlands is denoted by Central European Time (CET) during the winter as standard time in the Netherlands, which is one hour ahead of coordinated universal time (UTC+01:00), and Central European Summer Time (CEST) during the summer as daylight saving time, which is two hours ahead of coordinated universal time (UTC+02:00). The Caribbean Netherlands – which consist of the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba – all observe Atlantic Standard Time (AST) year-round, which is four hours behind coordinated universal time (UTC−04:00).

Oxford time is the custom of having scheduled events occur five minutes past the specified time. It is a peculiar tradition of timekeeping in Oxford, especially in connection with the University of Oxford.


  1. Urban, Sean E.; Seidelmann, P. Kenneth (2013). Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac (3rd ed.). Mill Valley, CA: University Science Books. pp. 13, 231, 239.
  2. Finch, Vernor C.; Glenn T. Trewartha; M. H. Shearer; Frederick L. Caudle (1943). Elementary Meteorology. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. p. 17. ASIN   B005F644PG.