Summer sunshine is the most direct sunlight we get throughout the year. The angle of the sun peaks around June 21. The summer is also the season we tend to try to find shade trees to get a break from the hot sun.

It seems like it would be simple to answer the question of whether the air is hotter in the sun or in the shade.

The true answer is that the temperature is the same in the sun as it is in the shade. You may wonder how that could be as the sun makes you feel so hot, and then when you step into the shade it feels so much cooler.

The key word is that you “feel” cooler. Your body will feel hotter because the solar radiation is absorbed by your body and makes heat.

The air actually stays at the same temperature around your body in the sun as well as in the shade. You are not taking on the solar radiation in the shade, so it just feels cooler to your body.

The National Weather Service will measure the air temperature in the shade because that is the true temperature as it is not impacted by the sunshine and its direct solar radiation. A thermometer will get hot from the sun and cause a hotter reading. A lighter-colored thermometer will not be as hot as a dark-colored thermometer.

The darker the color of the clothes you wear, the hotter you will be. The darker colors absorb more of the sun’s radiation to make more heat to your skin. The lighter colors help reflect some of the radiation keeping you cooler.

This is the reason you typically see dark solar panels instead of light-colored ones to try and grab as much of the sun’s radiation/energy.

The bottom line is that shade makes you feel cooler, but the actual air temperature will stay the same as you walk back into the sun. It will just feel hotter.