Chasing the Big Dipper Along the Oregon Coast
(Manzanita, Oregon) - Sometimes, the best way to enjoy the beach is not to gaze at the waves nor wander it in bright sunlight - but to look up at night.
It also helps to have one bad mother of a camera that takes awesome night shots.
It’s early summer of 2010, so far the “bummer summer” of little blue skies. Beachcombers and residents get lucky with a few chunks of nice days in June. At Manzanita, the night sky reflects this, with clear conditions allowing unobstructed views of a monster Big Dipper hovering over Neahkahnie Mountain. A handful of streetlights and some homes with residents still up at this hour provide a reminder of civilization below.
There’s that irresistible mist that hovers close to Neahkahnie as well, there more often than not.
Then, fast forward a few months to the weekend of Halloween in Newport, about 100 miles away from Manzanita. There, the Big Dipper makes and appearance again, hovering over Yaquina Head and Agate Beach. This time, it’s at a slightly different angle, and a bit lower.
This shot was taken atop a bluff at Nye Beach, so the waters surrounding Agate Beach and the bright dot of the lighthouse are clearly visible as well, along with some nifty colors that are created by various manmade light sources.
Amusingly, the Big Dipper really kind of looks like a giant shopping cart to modern eyes.
According to PBS.org, the Big Dipper is visible year round. It’s high in the evening sky in the summer, but in the in fall it’s more towards the northwest.
In winter, gets rather low in the northern horizon, so some of the geography around you may block it – especially on the Oregon coast, as there’s almost always something to the north of you. It will undoubtedly be easier to spot from vantage points like Cape Foulweather and maybe the lookouts just south of Cannon Beach.
In springtime, it shows up more towards the northeast, which could present a problem for those on the coast trying to check it out, as the coast range mountains may get it in the way.
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