Assume that this earth is celestially equivalent to ours: e.g. same solar system, same position, same orbit, etc.

Would the sunset look similar to ours on a floating-island earth?

The earth itself is essentially masses of land orbiting in stasis around a fixed "center". Each is spherically shaped and large enough to hold about 500 people comfortably, but spread out from other islands so that one can narrowly see one island from another.

There is no land mass in the center of the earth. (This would cause other scientific problems, but for the moment I'm overlooking those; and besides, those problems have been addressed in other questions.)

My question is, scientifically, would a sunset on this earth look similar to our sunset? Specifically, would it scatter as much as our sunsets do? How long would it be?

  • $\begingroup$ Followup: How would the oceans behave on a floating-island earth? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Mindwin interesting question, although it would serve to define where exactly the oceans themselves are in such an earth. I think I'm going to modify the world so that there is a central land mass, which would allow for oceans. $\endgroup$
    – No Name
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ Also, there would be lots of partial eclipses, which might be beautiful! (if you have the right tools with which to observe the eclipses, as the islands wouldn't be large enough to hide the entire sun) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 23:31

2 Answers 2


I am going to suppose the atmosphere is much like ours too.

As Michael said in his answer, there might not be a truly dark night. There would also be other bizarre effects.

One thing about our atmosphere is that it is relatively thin, compared to the planet as a whole. You go a hundred miles up, and you are practically "in space" (I am going to skip a scientific discussion about what being in space really means for now). The point is, you never have more than a few dozen miles of air filtering sunlight for you.

If your planet is as large as Earth, though, at "midnight" you may be looking at the sun through an eight-thousand-miles-thick air filter. This will have some bizarre effects. Rayleigh scattering, which is what makes the sky seem blue, will have spread the blue-most part of sunlight so much that you won't see this color. The sun would look dimmer, hazy, distorted, and more orange-reddish. The atmoshere between you and the sun would also look this color.

And I am not even counting on the filtering effect of the heavier gases that would surelly accrue on the mass center of your planet. These might tint the sun and the world another color at night.

You'd still better avoid looking directly at the sun this way, though!

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent point about the massive atmospheric thickness. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 17:32

It would never really be night on this world.

Night on earth is essentially being on the half of the planet that is currently being shaded from the sun by the entire planet.

If I am picturing your world correctly, the earth is replaced almost entirely by empty space with a few bobbing masses of land floating through the air. While the side of each of these masses that faces away from the sun would be out of direct light, there would be enough light refracting around the edges and reflecting from the sky to always have a day-lit sky.

"Sunset" would simply be the sun slipping behind a nearby hill without the reds and oranges of a traditional sunset.


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