Typically at dawn on a hot summer day, land plants need precise molecular thermometers to sense harmless increments in the ambient temperature to induce a timely heat shock response (HSR) and accumulate protective heat shock proteins in anticipation of harmful temperatures at mid-day. Here, we found that the cyclic nucleotide gated calcium channel (CNGC) CNGCb gene from Physcomitrella patens and its Arabidopsis thaliana ortholog CNGC2, encode a component of cyclic nucleotide gated Ca2+ channels that act as the primary thermosensors of land plant cells. Disruption of CNGCb or CNGC2 produced a hyper-thermosensitive phenotype, giving rise to an HSR and acquired thermotolerance at significantly milder heat-priming treatments than in wild-type plants. In an aequorin-expressing moss, CNGCb loss-of-function caused a hyperthermoresponsive Ca2+ influx and altered Ca2+ signaling. Patch clamp recordings on moss protoplasts showed the presence of three distinct thermoresponsive Ca2+ channels in wild-type cells. Deletion of CNGCb led to a total absence of one and increased the open probability of the remaining two thermoresponsive Ca2+ channels. Thus, CNGC2 and CNGCb are expected to form heteromeric Ca2+ channels with other related CNGCs. These channels in the plasma membrane respond to increments in the ambient temperature by triggering an optimal HSR, leading to the onset of plant acquired thermotolerance.