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Cannon Beach Astronomy: the Sea Above the Oregon Coast

Published 01/11/23 at 5:19 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cannon Beach Astronomy: the Sea Above the Oregon Coast

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A fairly sleepy little Oregon coast town – but not completely so – Cannon Beach certainly rolls up the sidewalks after a certain hour. The little artist colony-meets-upscale village is likely the last place you'd think of when trying to discover the secrets of the universe, trying to delve into astronomy. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

And you're likely right.

There's certainly no radio telescopes here, aimed at the stars, hoping for a sound byte from another civilization. No supercollider. No high-altitude array mapping out quasars or black holes.

Real astronomy is a no-go here, especially with those misty Oregon coast nights. Well, usually, that is. There are times the galaxy just jumps out at you. The rest of our Milky Way can seriously come alive, certainly if you've got the right photo equipment.

Even if the clouds haven't parted to reveal the universe, cloud cover after dark shows off so many other things. Maybe even more than Oregon coast on most days, no two nights along these shores are ever the same.

Indeed, Cannon Beach is simply a wonderful little hotspot to check out the sea of stars above us on a calm, nocturnal beach, given the right conditions. Little to no light interference from the town allows more spectacular views, which just aren't seen as much these days in other inland parts of Oregon. The shot at the top shows this from the Ecola State Park end of town. That's Goonies Rock there at night (it's just a name as the rock was never in the movie).


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 with an intense relfection 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.

Cannon Beach Astronomy: the Sea Above the Oregon Coast

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.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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