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Cannon Beach Astronomy: Oregon Coast Nighttime Photo Essay

Published 07/22/2013


(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – This little artist colony-meets-upscale village on the north Oregon coast is probably the last place you'd think of when contemplating discovering the rest of the universe. And you're probably right. There is no supercollider here, jamming odd particles into the waves of the Pacific Ocean. There's no major radio telescope or high-altitude array mapping out black holes or quasars (though there is a sizable lens just south of town trained on the stars – but that's another story).


No, Cannon Beach is just a wonderful little hotspot to check out this galaxy on a calm, nocturnal beach, given the right conditions. Little to no light interference from the town allows some spectacular views of the Milky Way, which just aren't seen as much these days in other inland parts of Oregon. This shot shows that from the very southern end of town.


It also yields some enormous surprises. Such as this shot, taken at the northern end, looking towards Chapman Point. Just a block and a half from the Fultano's Restaurant in Cannon Beach, long after the lovely little Italian joint has closed, Ecola Creek yields these wonders in the middle of the night. That lit orb in the distance is a fishing boat on the horizon, around 3 a.m.


Just south of town, Hug Point manages to look especially ethereal and otherworldly when another world is casting its glow upon these seas. That's a massive full moon tugging at the tides here, but also setting the ocean on fire around 2 a.m. on this particular night.


Another engaging surprise is the way different light sources bounce off the gasses in the clouds of the Oregon coast. This shot was taken at the southern end of Cannon Beach, just beyond the Tolovana Area.


This is the same area with a slightly different setting on the camera, causing it view those light sources and atmospheric gasses in very different shades. As said before: there are always surprises.

No two nights on the Oregon coast ever look the same – at least to the camera. It sees things we don't, although those hours after dark may look fuzzy, secretive and largely the same to our naked eyes.


Of course, the big landmark everyone associates with Cannon Beach is Haystack Rock, though there is much more to the town than that. But for those grasping for a sense of the familiar, here is that favorite sight-seeing spot – that sense of grounding for those who might've felt a little lost in this photo essay. This is what the basalt wonder looks like at night – sometimes.

Other times, well, you'll just have to check out the Cannon Beach Virtual Tour, Map for more of these fascinating sights – both day and night.

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