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Ethereal Thing at the Other End of Sunset You Don't Know About: Odd Oregon Coast Science

Published 6/11/24 at 5:25 a.m.
By Andre' Hagestedt, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Lincoln City, Oregon) – From the beaches of Washington through Oregon over into the Midwest, to Europe, to the deserts of Africa and everywhere in between, there's something else brewing at sunset you may want to look for. A lot of times it's a subtle thing, but it's only found on crystal clear days when you can see the opposite direction of either sunrise or sunset. (Oregon Coast Beach Connection - Belt of Venus at Manzanita)

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This, according to OMSI astronomy expert Jim Todd in Portland, is something you're more apt to see right now, thanks to those clear days in June. All you really need is a good vantage point where nothing is blocking your view to the east of the sunset. What you'll likely see is a darker band of color at that opposite horizon. Sometimes it's a brighter pink or orange, but a lot of times it's more like a quiet shade of purple.

This is called the Belt of Venus, and it's been there all the time. You've just likely mistaken it for clouds at the other end of the sky. See full story Belt of Venus: the Other Side of Oregon / Washington Coast Sunset

β€œOn the next clear evening, look for what is called the Belt of Venus - named after the Roman goddess of love, offering stunning views,” Todd told Oregon Coast Beach Connection years ago. He's just recently reiterated the heads up since Oregon and Washington are moving into better weather right now.

Manzanita - Oregon Coast Beach Connection

People go out to the beaches to catch sight of the sunset all the time, but they never think to look back towards land.

You're essentially seeing the Earth's shadow. As the sun sinks below the horizon, it casts that shadow increasingly upwards. It turns out, what you're seeing is pretty huge – as big as the planet we're on.

It starts appearing about 30 to 60 minutes after sunset, essentially the famed blue hour.

The dark shadow is capped at the top by varied bands of colors, often pink or purple, which Todd said is created by the reddened sunlight getting backscattered in the atmosphere.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection has caught this numerous times out on the coast, such as the above shots in Manzanita. However, this happened unknowingly, as we didn't get wind of the phenomenon until about 2021. Then going back in the photo archives, numerous older photos were discovered.

Another example is above in Lincoln City, looking out over the Siletz River. The moon is bright by this time, and the exposure required was about ten to 20 seconds.

In these photos provided by OMSI's Todd, Justine Lacio snagged the phenomenon looking east from Mount Hood. See full story Belt of Venus: the Other Side of Oregon / Washington Coast Sunset

The second shot shows dogs don't really care about the curious mix of weather and astronomy.

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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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