Concurrent (August 2006) measurements of tropospheric NO2 columns from OMI aboard Aura (1330 local overpass time) and SCIAMACHY aboard Envisat (1000 local overpass time) offer an opportunity to examine the consistency between the two instruments under tropospheric background conditions and the effect of different observing times. For scenes with tropospheric NO2 columns <5.0 × 1015 molecules cm−2, SCIAMACHY and OMI agree within 1.0–2.0 × 1015 molecules cm−2, consistent with the detection limits of both instruments. We find evidence for a low bias of 0.2 × 1015 molecules cm−2 in OMI observations over remote oceans. Over the fossil fuel source regions at northern midlatitudes, we find that SCIAMACHY observes up to 40% higher NO2 at 1000 local time (LT) than OMI at 1330 LT. Over biomass burning regions in the tropics, SCIAMACHY observes up to 40% lower NO2 columns than OMI. These differences are present in the spectral fitting of the data (slant column) and are augmented in the fossil fuel regions and dampened in the tropical biomass burning regions by the expected increase in air mass factor as the mixing depth rises from 1000 to 1330 LT. Using a global 3-D chemical transport model (GEOS-Chem), we show that the 1000–1330 LT decrease in tropospheric NO2 column over fossil fuel source regions can be explained by photochemical loss, dampened by the diurnal cycle of anthropogenic emissions that has a broad daytime maximum. The observed 1000–1330 LT NO2 column increase over tropical biomass burning regions points to a sharp midday peak in emissions and is consistent with a diurnal cycle of emissions derived from geostationary satellite fire counts.