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I reformulated my question entirely. So here we go again ;-)

Lets say my goal is to imitate (parts of) the "sunset/sunrise happening" with or within a digital device. I want to transport that feeling to the user.

Can this be done by light only? Which frequency spectrum within the visible electromagnetic spectrum would I have to use (on a screen, with a bulb, ...)? Would users then be able to distinguish between sunset and sunrise?

And will the light its self be enough?

Philips Wakeup Light use case is to wake up their users from sleep. My use case is to motivate people (in offices) who start/end work very early/late (during winter when its dark) or to help people get over a jet lag for example.

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Bart Gijssens, Benny Skogberg MCSA, Matt Obee, Erics, Charles Wesley Jan 30 at 19:35

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about physics or cognitive sciences. Not UX related. –  Bart Gijssens Jan 30 at 7:44
    
@BartGijssens What exactly (besides the physical aspect) makes my question differ that it doesn't make it a user experience question? Curious to know for my future questions on ux.se –  uxfelix Jan 30 at 8:05
    
Well, you ask 2 questions. The first one is about physics, the second one about cognitive sciences. It's not that you are asking on how we can improve the sun (or a representation of it) in order to make a better distinction between sunset and sunrise. Then it would have been a UX question. We are not users of the sun in the same sense as we are users of a software or hardware product. The sun is not man made. There's the difference. –  Bart Gijssens Jan 30 at 8:17
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Your last edit changes everything. I suggest you change your question to "how can I immitate sunrise and sunset?". This way you will get better answers. –  Bart Gijssens Jan 30 at 8:34
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What kind of device are you designing? The reason I ask is because I don't know whether yo uare looking for a visual representation of sunset vs sunrise, or do you somehow want to simulate the "feeling", example: you are designing a night stand lamp. –  Bart Gijssens Jan 30 at 8:39

4 Answers 4

Without additional information you can hardly distinguish. The main reason for the sun color is its light traveling through the athmosphere which is the same at the morning and at the evening. I've seen many sunrises that could well have been sunsets and vice versa.

There might be other factors that have an additional influence, e.g. in the morning the air is usually cleaner etc. In a clean environment you can't tell a difference however. For instance watch a movie of the sun never going down in the arctic during summer.

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In graphic terms, the morning's lights tends to be blue while sunset/evening is more orange. It'd be interesting to test if the colors would be enough to convey sunrise and sunset with the same figure.

enter image description here

EDIT : this is an experimentation from a theorical point of view. I'm talking about the ambient lights of the morning and the evening and not really about the sun itself. I'm not saying the representation above is correct but I think at least it is easy to make a difference while using the same figure.

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"the morning's lights tends to be blue while sunrise/evening is more orange" -> Bit is that true? That is what the question is about. Have you measured the temperature of the light during sunset vs sunrise? During summer time the sunset seems just as warm to me in the evening. I think you are also mixing up sunset and sunrise. Sunrise is what happens in the morning, not in the evening. –  Bart Gijssens Jan 30 at 8:20
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For some reason I would associate the first picture with sunset, and the second one with sunrise. The reason I think is because the first picture shows a dark sky, it suggests darkness, hence night, hence sunset. The seconds one shows a bright sky, hence morning, hence sunrise. See how misleading this can be? –  Bart Gijssens Jan 30 at 8:43
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For me the first picture shows a moon in the night. I wouldn't at all associated that with either sunrise nor sunset. –  Mike Lischke Jan 30 at 8:52
    
I agree with you @MikeLischke, the first picture looks like a moon in the night. However the point was to show that there is some ways to make a difference. Maybe it should be a lighter gradient or whatever but with the exact same figure, changing the colors clearly makes a difference. –  Gabin Jan 30 at 9:29

Some photographer says it's not possible but few says it's possible by giving birds or other effects. These will help...

http://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/11396/whats-different-about-photographing-at-sunrise-vs-sunset

sunrise and sunset

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If it's been sunny all day the puddles will have evaporated. Show puddles in the foreground at sunrise, and no puddles for sunset. You could use frost/ice too. Of course there could be puddles/frost at sunset, so this example relies of seeing the graphics together and having a relative comparison.

If you are using only the sun then I'd draw heat ripples. If sunset draw the heat ripples within the top of the sun (to imply the sun moving up and away from them), if sunset draw them above the sun (as the sun is descending away from).

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