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朝の6時 seems to be consistent with using の to have one noun modify another, while 朝6時 appears to be just two successive nouns (which I wouldn't think would be a grammatically valid construction).

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Why was this post downvoted? –  Choko May 13 '12 at 8:17
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-_- .. upvoting to compensate. –  ジョン May 13 '12 at 9:49

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I am not sure what you are really looking for. We say 朝6時, 夕方6時, 夜9時, 午前6時, 午後6時, 今月4日, 来年4月, and so on. If you want grammatical analysis, they may be considered as compound nouns, but I am not sure if understanding them as compound nouns helps you understand these expressions any better.

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Yes and 朝の6時 sounds a bit more colloquial than 朝6時, maybe? –  Choko May 13 '12 at 22:38
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@Chocolate: I am not sure about that. Definitely the most formal way to say it is 午前6時, so 朝6時 also sounds a little colloquial to me. 朝の6時 is also a little colloquial, but it is hard to tell which is more colloquial between 朝6時 and 朝の6時. –  Tsuyoshi Ito May 13 '12 at 23:09

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