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Answered

Is it possible to calculate havdalah times based on 8.5 degrees rather than minutes?

Jew Zealander 7 years ago updated by Michael J. Radwin 1 year ago 2
Our community (Wellington, New Zealand) uses the 8.5 degrees method for havdalah time which varies noticeably from any fixed minutes after sunset at times of the year. Is it be possible to specify this method as an alternative to minutes after sunset?

Answer

Answer

In August 2020 we updated our solar calculation engine, which enabled this feature.

Havdalah can now be calculated according to tzeit hakochavim, the point when 3 small stars are observable in the night time sky with the naked eye. The new default Havdalah option is calculated when the sun is 8.5° below the horizon. This option is an excellent default for most places on the planet. We still offer the option to use a fixed number of minutes past sundown (e.g. 42 min for three medium-sized stars, 50 min for three small stars, 72 min for Rabbeinu Tam) which works well for Israel, most of the USA and Europe.

https://www.hebcal.com/home/1548/hebcal-2020-year-end-updates

Answer

In August 2020 we updated our solar calculation engine, which enabled this feature.

Havdalah can now be calculated according to tzeit hakochavim, the point when 3 small stars are observable in the night time sky with the naked eye. The new default Havdalah option is calculated when the sun is 8.5° below the horizon. This option is an excellent default for most places on the planet. We still offer the option to use a fixed number of minutes past sundown (e.g. 42 min for three medium-sized stars, 50 min for three small stars, 72 min for Rabbeinu Tam) which works well for Israel, most of the USA and Europe.

https://www.hebcal.com/home/1548/hebcal-2020-year-end-updates

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Under review
Thanks for using Hebcal and thanks for your question!

No, we don't currently support Havdalah by solar degrees below the horizon. This is an excellent idea, and one that we'll consider implementing.