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Oregon Coast Now: Lowest Tides of Year, Milky Way Gone

Published 05/24/2017 at 7:43 PM PDT - Updated 05/24/2017 at 7:46 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Coast This Month: Lowest Tides of Year, Milky Way Gone

(Oregon Coast) – It's a triple threat of trippy pleasures on the Oregon coast if you're looking down or looking up. Day or night. The lowest low tides of the year are right now, while Saturn is beginning a spectacular run as the Milky Way disappears. (Above: the Milky Way at Cannon Beach).

Most of the time, the stars and the rest of the galaxy are simply beautiful things to look at from this shoreline, but the skies can really have a direct effect on Oregon coast beaches in the form of low tides. Some of the biggest minus tides of the year are happening right about now and through the holiday weekend.

According the tide tables for Clatsop Beach on the north Oregon coast, May 25 brings a -1.3 inches tide at around 7 a.m. May 26 through 28 dip down to -1.6 inches around 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. On May 29 it's around -1.2 inches at 10 a.m., and on the 30th and 31st it's about a minus half inch.

This will mean greater access to many of the Oregon coast's most amazing tide pool areas, but also it could grant you unprecedented (but brief) access to many structures normally off limits. Watch those tides, however, and don't try extremely dangerous spots like Lost Boy Beach in Oceanside or the Devil's Punchbowl, however easy access may appear to be. It's not.

Safer areas that could be opened up may include the arch at Arch Cape (southern end), Boiler Bay near Depoe Bay (you'll get to see the boiler left over from a shipwreck more easily) and the tunnel at Oceanside.

See more tide table links at Oregon Coast Weather. Times at other beach spots will differ.

Meanwhile, where has the Milky Way gone? According to astronomers, including OMSI's Jim Todd in Portland, it is hiding just below the horizon in May. At these mid northern latitudes, you'll notice it's missing from anywhere in Oregon, including the Oregon coast.

Todd said the equator of the Milky Way is now circling the rim of the horizon, with the North Galactic Pole standing high overhead in the constellation Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s Hair. This puts it just out of sight throughout the month.

“In this direction, where the glare and the dust of the Milky Way are minimal, the sky beckons you to look at the deep-sky objects beyond the Milky Way,” Todd said. “As seen from the North Galactic Pole, the Sun and the solar system revolve clockwise around the center or nucleus of the Milky Way Galaxy. The galactic plane is the plane in which the majority of a disk-shaped galaxy's mass lies. The directions are perpendicular to the galactic plane point to the galactic poles. Most often, in actual usage, the terms 'galactic plane' and 'galactic poles' are used to refer specifically to the plane and poles of the Milky Way, which is the galaxy in which the Earth is located.”

However, the Milky Way has not drifted completely away from Oregon skies. If you stay up fairly late – well past midnight – it does start to emerge in the east. Stranger still: since mountainous regions and high hills are immediately east of the Oregon coast, it's quite possible beach area like Seaside, Cannon Beach, Newport or Lincoln City won't get to see it at all.

Coming up later this month and in June, Saturn will be stealing the show. The ringed planet will be rising from the eastern sky by early to mid evening in May, but soon it will be staying out all night. By June 15, it is in direct opposition to Earth and the sun, making it the best time of year to see it.

This is also when it comes its closest to Earth all year, making it the brightest the planet will be for 2017.

To top off the astronomical pleasures, if you've got a telescope you're in for a real treat. The rings are at an incline of about 27 degrees with respect to Earth throughout this year, making them more open than usual. Where to stay for this - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

Photos below courtesy Seaside Aquarium

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