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midnight velvet, midnight sun
Midnight is the transition time period from one day to the next: the moment when the date changes In ancient Roman timekeeping, midnight was halfway between sunset and sunrise ie, solar midnight, varying according to the seasons By clock time, midnight is the opposite of noon, differing from it by 12 hours

Solar midnight is the time opposite to solar noon, when the sun is closest to the nadir and the night is equidistant from dusk and dawn Due to the advent of time zones, which make time identical across a range of meridians, and daylight saving time, it rarely coincides with midnight on a clock Solar midnight is dependent on longitude and time of the year rather than on a time zone

In the northern hemisphere, "midnight" had an ancient geographic association with "north" as did "noon" with "south" – see noon Modern Polish and Belarusian preserve this association with its word for "midnight" północ, поўнач – literally "half-night", which also means "north"


  • 1 Start and end of day
  • 2 See also
  • 3 Notes
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Start and end of day

Main article: 12-hour clock § Confusion at noon and midnight

Midnight marks the beginning and ending of each day in civil time throughout the world It is the dividing point between one day and another With 12-hour time notation, authorities recommend avoiding confusion between noon and midnight by using "midnight", "12 midnight", "12 mi", or "12:00 midnight"

In the United States and Canada, digital clocks and computers commonly display 12 am right at midnight While that phrase may be used practically, it helps to understand that any particular time is actually an instant The "am" shown on clock displays refers to the 12-hour period following the instant of midnight, not to the instant itself, so that, when a clock displays "12:00 am", the instant of midnight has already passed and the period before noon of a new day has begun In other words, 11:59 pm shows until midnight; at the instant of midnight, it changes to 12:00 Simultaneously, the pm changes to am, though, strictly speaking, am does not apply to the instant of midnight which separates pm and am In 24-hour time notation, "0:00" and "0:00:00" refer to midnight at the start of a given date Some styles, such as ISO 8601, allow 24:00 to refer to the end of a day Noon is 12:00:00

One way for a digital clock to show midnight

While computers and digital clocks display "12:00 am" and "12:00 pm", those notations provide no clear and unambiguous way to distinguish between midnight and noon Strictly speaking, it is actually incorrect to use "am" and "pm" when referring to noon or midnight 12:00 The abbreviation am stands for ante meridiem or before noon and pm stands for post meridiem or after noon Since noon is neither after noon nor before noon, and midnight can equally be twelve hours before and after noon, neither abbreviation is correct although the length of the error is determined by the smallest unit of time — 12:00:01 pm would be the correct notation for "1 second after noon"

The most common ways to represent these times are to:

  • a use a 24-hour clock 00:00 and 12:00, 24:00
  • b use "12 noon" or "12 midnight", although unless the person is referring to a general time and not a specific day, "12 midnight" is still ambiguous
  • c specify the time between two successive days or dates Midnight Saturday/Sunday or Midnight December 14/15
  • d use "12:01 am" or "11:59 pm", as is used where the ambiguity can have serious consequences, such as in contracts and insurance policies

The thirtieth edition of the US Government Style Manual 2008 sections 954 and 129b recommends the use of "12 am" for midnight and "12 pm" for noon Some religious calendars continue to begin the day at another time — for example, at sunset in the Hebrew calendar and the Islamic calendar

See also

  • 12-hour clock
  • Noon
  • New Year's Eve


  1. ^ The 29th edition of the US Government Printing Office Style Manual 2000 section 129 recommended the opposite the use of "12 pm" for midnight and "12 am" formerly "12 m" for noon


  1. ^ a b "How to use am/pm vs noon/midnight" National Institute of Standards and Technology February 4, 2010 created, January 18, 2011 last updated Retrieved 2012-09-02  Check date values in: |date= help
  2. ^ "US Government Printing Office Style Manual Chapter 9" 2008 Retrieved 2009-06-11 
  3. ^ "US Government Printing Office Style Manual Chapter 12" 2008 Retrieved 2009-06-11 

External links

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology

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