# Clock Angle Analysis

While playing with my son's toy clock I got to thinking about the relative angles between the minute and hour hands. On the toy clock the hands move independently of each other so you can make any configuration desired. On a real clock, of course, the relative position is specified by the time.

For this analysis, let's look at the relative position of the hands over a 12-hour period to see if we see any patterns.

We start by importing the required libraries.

In [1]:
%matplotlib inline
import datetime
import pandas as pd
import numpy as np
import matplotlib
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt


Our goal is to determine the relative positions of the clock hour and minute hands at any given time. We will represent all times in seconds for simplicity.

First we need a function to calculate the position the hour hand at any given time, given as an angle from the 12 o'clock position. The hour hand moves one revolution (360°) in one hour. In degrees per second, this is:

$\frac{360}{12}\frac{^\circ}{\text{hour}} = \frac{360}{12\cdot60}\frac{^\circ}{\text{minute}} = \frac{360}{12\cdot60\cdot60}\frac{^\circ}{\text{second}}$

We will use this function to return the angleHour at any given time:

In [2]:
def angle_hour(time):
'''Returns the angle of the hour hand at a given time
(in degrees, from 12 o'clock).
time: <class 'pandas._libs.tslibs.timestamps.Timestamp'>'''
hour = time.hour
minute = time.minute
second = time.second

seconds = hour*60*60 + minute*60 + second
angleHour = seconds * 360/12/60/60

return angleHour


Likewise, the minute hand moves one revolution (360°) in one minute. In degrees per second, this is:

$\frac{360}{60}\frac{^\circ}{\text{minute}} = \frac{360}{60\cdot60}\frac{^\circ}{\text{second}}$

In [3]:
def angle_minute(time):
'''Returns the angle of the minute hand at a given time
(in degrees, from 12 o'clock).
time: <class 'pandas._libs.tslibs.timestamps.Timestamp'>'''
hour = time.hour
minute = time.minute
second = time.second

seconds = minute*60 + second
angleMinute = seconds * 360/60/60

return angleMinute


Finally, we calculate the angle between the two hands:

In [4]:
def angle_bet(angleHour,angleMinute):
'''Returns the angle between the hour and minute hands
(in degrees).
angleHour, angleMinute: <float>'''
angleBetween = abs(angleHour - angleMinute)
angleBetween = min(360 - angleBetween, angleBetween)

return angleBetween


We will construct a DataFrame with each row representing one second in a 12-hour span, with columns for the angles we need to calculate.

In [5]:
# create df
dateToday = datetime.datetime.now().date()
index = pd.date_range(dateToday, periods=12*60*60, freq='S')
# index = pd.date_range(dateToday, periods=12*60*60*10, freq='.1S')

columns = ['Time','angleHour','angleMinute','angleBetween']
df = pd.DataFrame(index=index, columns=columns).fillna(0)
df['Time'] = df.index

df['angleHour'] = df.apply(lambda row: angle_hour(row['Time']),
axis=1)
df['angleMinute'] = df.apply(lambda row: angle_minute(row['Time']),
axis=1)
df['angleBetween'] = df.apply(lambda row: angle_bet(row['angleHour'],
row['angleMinute']),
axis=1)
df.tail()

Out[5]:
Time angleHour angleMinute angleBetween
2019-06-03 11:59:55 2019-06-03 11:59:55 359.958333 359.5 0.458333
2019-06-03 11:59:56 2019-06-03 11:59:56 359.966667 359.6 0.366667
2019-06-03 11:59:57 2019-06-03 11:59:57 359.975000 359.7 0.275000
2019-06-03 11:59:58 2019-06-03 11:59:58 359.983333 359.8 0.183333
2019-06-03 11:59:59 2019-06-03 11:59:59 359.991667 359.9 0.091667

We can test these functions to verify expected behavior. In this example, at 1:30, the hour hand should be halfway between 12 and 3, or 45°. Likewise, the minute hand should be at 180°.

In [6]:
time = df.iloc[5400,0]
print(time)

angleHour = angle_hour(time)
print('angleHour:    {}°'.format(int(angleHour)))

angleMinute = angle_minute(time)
print('angleMinute:  {}°'.format(int(angleMinute)))

angleBetween = angle_bet(angleHour,angleMinute)
print('angleBetween: {}°'.format(int(angleBetween)))

2019-06-03 01:30:00
angleHour:    45°
angleMinute:  180°
angleBetween: 135°


With our DataFrame created and populated, let's plot the angle between the hands as a function of the time over this 12-hour period.

In [7]:
plt.style.use('mag')
ax = df.plot(kind='line', x='Time', y='angleBetween',figsize=(10,5))
ax.get_legend().remove()
plt.ylabel('Angle Between Hands')
plt.title('Angle Between Clock Hands')
ax.yaxis.set_major_formatter(plt.FuncFormatter(lambda x,
loc: "{:,}°".format(int(x))))

plt.xticks(np.arange(ax.get_xlim()[0], ax.get_xlim()[1]+1, 1*60*60))
ax.plot([ax.get_xlim()[0],ax.get_xlim()[1]],[90,90],'--',linewidth=2)

Out[7]:
[<matplotlib.lines.Line2D at 0x1147b6a90>]

The first interesting thing to note about this plot is that the hands are 180° apart one less time than they are 0° apart. This is due to the fact that the hour hand completes one revolution during this period and therefore "escapes" one of the 180° apart opportunities.

Here are the times when then hands overlap (note that in the below examples there are a few duplicates due to rounding):

In [8]:
df[df['angleBetween'].round(1)==0]

Out[8]:
Time angleHour angleMinute angleBetween
2019-06-03 00:00:00 2019-06-03 00:00:00 0.000000 0.0 0.000000
2019-06-03 01:05:27 2019-06-03 01:05:27 32.725000 32.7 0.025000
2019-06-03 02:10:54 2019-06-03 02:10:54 65.450000 65.4 0.050000
2019-06-03 02:10:55 2019-06-03 02:10:55 65.458333 65.5 0.041667
2019-06-03 03:16:22 2019-06-03 03:16:22 98.183333 98.2 0.016667
2019-06-03 04:21:49 2019-06-03 04:21:49 130.908333 130.9 0.008333
2019-06-03 05:27:16 2019-06-03 05:27:16 163.633333 163.6 0.033333
2019-06-03 06:32:44 2019-06-03 06:32:44 196.366667 196.4 0.033333
2019-06-03 07:38:11 2019-06-03 07:38:11 229.091667 229.1 0.008333
2019-06-03 08:43:38 2019-06-03 08:43:38 261.816667 261.8 0.016667
2019-06-03 09:49:05 2019-06-03 09:49:05 294.541667 294.5 0.041667
2019-06-03 10:54:33 2019-06-03 10:54:33 327.275000 327.3 0.025000

Next are the times when the hands are opposite:

In [9]:
df[df['angleBetween'].round(1)==180]

Out[9]:
Time angleHour angleMinute angleBetween
2019-06-03 00:32:44 2019-06-03 00:32:44 16.366667 196.4 179.966667
2019-06-03 01:38:11 2019-06-03 01:38:11 49.091667 229.1 179.991667
2019-06-03 02:43:38 2019-06-03 02:43:38 81.816667 261.8 179.983333
2019-06-03 03:49:05 2019-06-03 03:49:05 114.541667 294.5 179.958333
2019-06-03 03:49:06 2019-06-03 03:49:06 114.550000 294.6 179.950000
2019-06-03 04:54:33 2019-06-03 04:54:33 147.275000 327.3 179.975000
2019-06-03 06:00:00 2019-06-03 06:00:00 180.000000 0.0 180.000000
2019-06-03 07:05:27 2019-06-03 07:05:27 212.725000 32.7 179.975000
2019-06-03 08:10:54 2019-06-03 08:10:54 245.450000 65.4 179.950000
2019-06-03 08:10:55 2019-06-03 08:10:55 245.458333 65.5 179.958333
2019-06-03 09:16:22 2019-06-03 09:16:22 278.183333 98.2 179.983333
2019-06-03 10:21:49 2019-06-03 10:21:49 310.908333 130.9 179.991667
2019-06-03 11:27:16 2019-06-03 11:27:16 343.633333 163.6 179.966667

Here are the times when the hands are 90° apart.

In [10]:
df[df['angleBetween'].round(1)==90]

Out[10]:
Time angleHour angleMinute angleBetween
2019-06-03 00:16:22 2019-06-03 00:16:22 8.183333 98.2 90.016667
2019-06-03 00:49:05 2019-06-03 00:49:05 24.541667 294.5 90.041667
2019-06-03 01:21:49 2019-06-03 01:21:49 40.908333 130.9 89.991667
2019-06-03 01:54:33 2019-06-03 01:54:33 57.275000 327.3 89.975000
2019-06-03 02:27:16 2019-06-03 02:27:16 73.633333 163.6 89.966667
2019-06-03 03:00:00 2019-06-03 03:00:00 90.000000 0.0 90.000000
2019-06-03 03:32:44 2019-06-03 03:32:44 106.366667 196.4 90.033333
2019-06-03 04:05:27 2019-06-03 04:05:27 122.725000 32.7 90.025000
2019-06-03 04:38:11 2019-06-03 04:38:11 139.091667 229.1 90.008333
2019-06-03 05:10:54 2019-06-03 05:10:54 155.450000 65.4 90.050000
2019-06-03 05:10:55 2019-06-03 05:10:55 155.458333 65.5 89.958333
2019-06-03 05:43:38 2019-06-03 05:43:38 171.816667 261.8 89.983333
2019-06-03 06:16:22 2019-06-03 06:16:22 188.183333 98.2 89.983333
2019-06-03 06:49:05 2019-06-03 06:49:05 204.541667 294.5 89.958333
2019-06-03 07:21:49 2019-06-03 07:21:49 220.908333 130.9 90.008333
2019-06-03 07:54:33 2019-06-03 07:54:33 237.275000 327.3 90.025000
2019-06-03 08:27:16 2019-06-03 08:27:16 253.633333 163.6 90.033333
2019-06-03 09:00:00 2019-06-03 09:00:00 270.000000 0.0 90.000000
2019-06-03 09:32:44 2019-06-03 09:32:44 286.366667 196.4 89.966667
2019-06-03 10:05:27 2019-06-03 10:05:27 302.725000 32.7 89.975000
2019-06-03 10:38:11 2019-06-03 10:38:11 319.091667 229.1 89.991667
2019-06-03 11:10:54 2019-06-03 11:10:54 335.450000 65.4 89.950000
2019-06-03 11:10:55 2019-06-03 11:10:55 335.458333 65.5 90.041667
2019-06-03 11:43:38 2019-06-03 11:43:38 351.816667 261.8 90.016667

And finally, here are the times when the hands are 45° apart:

In [11]:
df[df['angleBetween'].round(1)==45]

Out[11]:
Time angleHour angleMinute angleBetween
2019-06-03 00:08:11 2019-06-03 00:08:11 4.091667 49.1 45.008333
2019-06-03 00:57:16 2019-06-03 00:57:16 28.633333 343.6 45.033333
2019-06-03 01:13:38 2019-06-03 01:13:38 36.816667 81.8 44.983333
2019-06-03 02:02:44 2019-06-03 02:02:44 61.366667 16.4 44.966667
2019-06-03 02:19:05 2019-06-03 02:19:05 69.541667 114.5 44.958333
2019-06-03 02:19:06 2019-06-03 02:19:06 69.550000 114.6 45.050000
2019-06-03 03:08:11 2019-06-03 03:08:11 94.091667 49.1 44.991667
2019-06-03 03:24:33 2019-06-03 03:24:33 102.275000 147.3 45.025000
2019-06-03 04:13:38 2019-06-03 04:13:38 126.816667 81.8 45.016667
2019-06-03 04:30:00 2019-06-03 04:30:00 135.000000 180.0 45.000000
2019-06-03 05:19:05 2019-06-03 05:19:05 159.541667 114.5 45.041667
2019-06-03 05:19:06 2019-06-03 05:19:06 159.550000 114.6 44.950000
2019-06-03 05:35:27 2019-06-03 05:35:27 167.725000 212.7 44.975000
2019-06-03 06:24:33 2019-06-03 06:24:33 192.275000 147.3 44.975000
2019-06-03 06:40:54 2019-06-03 06:40:54 200.450000 245.4 44.950000
2019-06-03 06:40:55 2019-06-03 06:40:55 200.458333 245.5 45.041667
2019-06-03 07:30:00 2019-06-03 07:30:00 225.000000 180.0 45.000000
2019-06-03 07:46:22 2019-06-03 07:46:22 233.183333 278.2 45.016667
2019-06-03 08:35:27 2019-06-03 08:35:27 257.725000 212.7 45.025000
2019-06-03 08:51:49 2019-06-03 08:51:49 265.908333 310.9 44.991667
2019-06-03 09:40:54 2019-06-03 09:40:54 290.450000 245.4 45.050000
2019-06-03 09:40:55 2019-06-03 09:40:55 290.458333 245.5 44.958333
2019-06-03 09:57:16 2019-06-03 09:57:16 298.633333 343.6 44.966667
2019-06-03 10:46:22 2019-06-03 10:46:22 323.183333 278.2 44.983333
2019-06-03 11:02:44 2019-06-03 11:02:44 331.366667 16.4 45.033333
2019-06-03 11:51:49 2019-06-03 11:51:49 355.908333 310.9 45.008333

This post is written in a Jupyter notebook. You can download the original notebook. Here are the Python library versions used:

In [12]:
%load_ext watermark
%watermark -iv

pandas      0.23.4
numpy       1.14.2
matplotlib  3.0.0


In [ ]:



© 2005 Matthew Kudija | Source