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Microsoft Flight Simulator guide: How to change the date and time

Any time is a good time to fly

A yellow plane flies in dusk over New York City in Microsoft Flight Simulator Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

You may have noticed that if you try to set a take off destination on the opposite side of the world in Microsoft Flight Simulator, that area will be covered in darkness. Considering that the simulation takes into account live weather conditions, so too does it make use of the actual position of the sun and the planet based on the day and time.

This is great for realism, but it isn’t helpful if you plan on taking a trip across the globe. So how do you change the sun’s position? In this Microsoft Flight Simulator guide, we’ll show you how to manipulate the date and time.

How to change the date and time

If you know where you’re taking off from and want to change the date and time before you fly, you can adjust those options while setting your destination.

The weather and time options in Microsoft Flight Simulator
Before you press Fly, adjust your date and time here
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

On the world map screen, select Flight Conditions at the top right of the screen. Once you do, several settings that appear allow you to adjust parameters like weather, date, and time.

You can use the slider on the right side of the screen to fine-tune your time settings down to the exact hour and minute. You can even change the month, day, and year if you’re planning on flying under specific circumstances, like trying to simulate Manhattanhenge.

With your preferred date and time locked in, hit the Fly button, and you’ll load into your destination at the selected date and time.

How to change date and time mid-flight

You can also change the date and time while you’re already flying around.

At any time, highlight your toolbar, choose the cloud icon, and a panel with date and time settings will appear.

The flight conditions options mid-flight in Microsoft Flight Simulator
You can change your date and time on the fly
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

Similar to the options on the map screen, you can adjust the date and time while flying around. At the top of the panel, you can adjust the same time slider to move the sun’s position in real time. You can also adjust the date and time the same way you can pre-flight.

Being able to adjust date and time on the fly will allow you to stage shots that would be otherwise difficult to capture naturally. For instance, we were able to simulate Manhattenhenge, a once-a-year photo opportunity, by putting in the exact day and time this event occurs.

New York City during Manhattanhenge in Microsoft Flight Simulator
We put in the the exact date and time to simulate Manhattanhenge.
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

Try experimenting with the date and time slider to figure out the best lighting angles and get stunning screen caps. You can eventually figure out how to get the sun in the exact position you want by observing how the sun moves across the sky as you adjust the date and time. We used this technique while exploring where to find the Wonders of the World.

Christ the Redeemer in Microsoft Flight Simulator
We figured out the right time and day to get this shot
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

Being able to change the date and time whenever you’d like is a great way to see the world in different ways. You can make it so you watch the sun rise in Japan or let the sun set to see why Paris is called The City of Lights.

Manipulating time can be another creative tool at your disposal when playing Microsoft Flight Simulator, just like changing the weather. Experiment with both next time you set up your a flight path.