How to Measure Remaining Daylight With Your Hand

Public Domain. Mcability

Need to know how much daylight is left? Use this handy trick.

It's pretty amazing that we can have a little computer in our pocket that can tell us, you know, basically anything in the world we could ever want to know. (For example, I just asked Google "What is the meaning of life?" and it told me, "The meaning of life is that which we choose to give it." See?) A lot of us have become very dependent on our phones and their many wonders, for sure. But let's say you are out running or hiking or wondering how much daylight you have left to take some photos – and maybe you don't have your phone, or you just want a super quick estimate? Well, worry not! You can just use your hands.

Now this is not an exact science. In northern climes the time may be a bit longer than the estimate, in the tropics, the opposite. Mountains and forests may mean it will get darker more quickly, and on cloudy days it's a no-go altogether. But that said, it's still an awesome trick.

daylight remaining

© sathaporn/Shutterstock – modified by TreeHugger

Here's how to do it. Extend your arm straight out in front with your palm facing you. (My shoddy graphic skills don't exactly illustrate the right position of the arm above; the arm should be fully straight in front of you.) With fingers together, place the bottom of your pinky on the horizon line. You need to measure how many fingers can fit between the horizon and the bottom of the sun. Four fingers equals one hour, with each finger representing 15 minutes. If there is more space than one hand, line up your other hand on top of the first one and count accordingly. If there is more space than two hands can fill, then hold the top hand steady and move the bottom one on top and continue, counting how many hands until you reach the sun.

And there you have it ... now you'll never get caught by surprise in the dark again. Don't say I never taught you anything.