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Sunset Finally Past 5 PM in Oregon, Portland, Coast: Bizarre Sunset Science

Published 01/21/2016 at 5:23 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff



(Oregon Coast) – It's official: the day is finally moving past 5 p.m. In the Portland area as sunset today will be at 5:01 p.m. But the little known secret is that there are seven more minutes of daylight on the Oregon coast at sunset. (Photo above: sunset at Gleneden Beach).

Oregon Coast Beach Connection did a test a few years back, and the NOAA time for sunset listed for Oregon and the Portland area clocked in about seven minutes later on the coast. Several meteorologists have told OCBC in the past said that sunset would probably be about ten minutes later along the beaches, so this matches up.

Sunset in any given area is calculated by when it would happen on a flat horizon without any mountain ranges. There are no official predictions for sunset on the Oregon coast, and the area is lumped in with the Portland area and I-5 corridor. Since the region is about 80 miles west of there, sunset would happen later. Thus, even Beaverton would likely experience a slightly earlier sunset because of the coast range mountains.

Still, it's comforting to note that daylight hours are finally expanding in Oregon. And the fact sunset happens seven or so minutes later on the beaches makes that even more inviting. (Coversely, however, sunrise happens later, and it's delayed even further by the coast range mountains.)

There's a particularly bizarre fact about sunsets, however, you won't see coming. It's not just true in this state, but all around the planet. Sunsets and sunrises are a kind of illusion. They don't really happen when you think they do.

According to Neil deGrasse Tyson‎ and the show “Cosmos: A TimeSpace Odyssey,” because light from the sun takes eight minutes to reach us, we're really seeing the sun as it was eight minutes ago.

To add yet another headache, sunsets and sunrises are actually a projection of the sun. They are the product of those rays of light getting projected into the air around us as it begins passing beyond the curvature of the Earth. It's not in that spot above the Earth just yet.

His exact words in the series said it best:

“That sun – it's not really there,” Tyson said. “It won't actually be above the horizon for another two minutes. Sunrise is an illusion. Earth's atmosphere bends the incoming rays, like a lens or a glass of water. So we see the image of the sun projected above the horizon before the physical sun is actually there.” Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour








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