Air temperature in the sun and in the shade

Dear Tom,
Parade Magazine’s Marilyn Savant says air temperature is the same in the sun as in the shade, but placing a thermometer in the sun heats up the thermometer. Does that make sense? If true, what do they use to measure air temperature?
Mike Beirl, Bolingbrook
Dear Mike,
Air temperature is always measured in a shady location because in the shade the thermometer is measuring the actual air temperature, and only the air temperature. A thermometer placed in the sun measures the temperature that the sun heats the thermometer to, not the true air temperature. When you are in the shade, you are experiencing the true air temperature. In the sun, you are experiencing the true air temperature plus the effect of the sun’s rays on your body, and consequently it feels warmer than just the air temperature.

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