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time each day for a complete year, is called the analemma and resembles a figure 8 aligned along a north-south axis. The most obvious variation in the sun's apparent position through the year is a north-south swing over 47° of angle (because of the 23.5° tilt of the earth axis with respect to the sun), called declination (see Section 2.2). The north-south swing in apparent angle is the main cause for the existence of seasons on earth.

Knowledge of the sun's path through the sky is necessary to calculate the solar radiation falling on a surface, the solar heat gain, the proper orientation of solar collectors, the placement of collectors to avoid shading, and many more factors that are not of direct interest in this book. The objective of this chapter is to describe the movements of the sun relative to the earth that give to the sun its east-west trajectory across the sky. The variation of solar incidence angle and the amount of solar energy received are analyzed for a number of fixed and tracking surfaces. The environment in which a solar system works depends mostly on the solar energy availability. Therefore, this is analyzed in some detail. The general weather of a location is required in many energy calculations. This is usually presented as a typical meteorological year (TMY) file, which is described in the last section of this chapter.

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