I'm making a widget for a strategy game that displays the sun in its background and you can see it rising, moving across the widget and setting as time passes.

The sun rises from the east, on the vast majority of world maps, that's to the right.

It would then make sense that I'd make it rise from the right and set to the left. However, it irks me that this visual indicator of time goes counterclockwise.

When the simulation is sped up the movement is quite noticeable, the time readout says time is going forwards but my lizard instinct says I'm traveling back in time.

What do you think?

a) Would it be better to resemble nature from right to left?

b) Would it be better to resemble a clocks motion from left to right?

4 Answers 4


I don't know where the sun rises in a screen animation, but I do understand that the movement of the sun indicates the passage of time.

Our generic indicator of the passage of time is the clock. The hands of the clock always turn to the right direction. If we split the clock face in half, keeping the upper half, the hand appears from the left and disappears on the right. To me it's the logical movement the sun path must follow in an animation.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Notably, some wristwatches, such as the Orient Sun and Moon watches feature tiny sun and moon which are moving in the same direction. There is no mechanical reason it needs to go the same way as the hands, but most of us would perceive the passage of time as running "clockwise".
    – cloudworks
    May 6, 2019 at 15:26

I just want to point out one big thing with your line of reasoning;

The sun rises from the east, on the vast majority of world maps, that's to the right.

The vast majority of people live in the northern hemisphere. 6.6 billion out of a total of 7.3, according to wikipedia. So they would be looking south, which means they see the sun coming up on the left and setting on the right.

It's also interesting to note that old maps were often made with east at the top, because that's where the sun comes up. Large influences for up-north as the standard were the discovery/invention of the pole star and the compass.


For the people sun appears on the sky in "Analema" ellipsis shape, not linear direction right > left, and perception of sun movement is not connected directly to East and West, than to other factors also.

Therefore users do not expect to see right > left classical movement, and in my opinion its perfectly fine to show it left > right.

As additional argument you can take that users are much aware of clockwise movement, which is something they see far more often, and it would be wrong to edit that.

  • I have tried your link above, but I could understand it? and don't know how to connect to this question. can you elicit more?
    – Frank AK
    May 5, 2019 at 14:24
  • 1
    @Frank AK the analemma shape isn't relevant, really. It just means that the sun's peak position is slightly different throughout the year. Similar to when designing a chair some people will be a bit taller than others. Interesting if you're designing a chair, but not if you're designing a chair icon. May 5, 2019 at 14:45
  • 1
    Have missunderstood Analema, sorry. But the point is people dont see it right > left.
    – xul
    May 5, 2019 at 18:18

I would vote neither a) or b).

The sun should move from left to right for locales that use LTR writing systems. This is naturally the direction of forward progress (c.f. side scrolling video games, etc.)

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