Solar Eclipse Funky Facts. Odd Oregon Coast Sunset Science
(Oregon Coast) – Sunsets, it turns out, are an illusion – a kind of projection. Another surprise: they make the day a tiny bit longer on the Oregon coast than inland. And this upcoming solar eclipse that will grace the North American skies on October 23 has interesting numbers game when it comes to where you are in Oregon.
This partial eclipse of the sun and what the sun generally does on the coast at the end of the day is just full of fascinating factoids. (Also see Partial Solar Eclipse Coming to North America, Oregon, the Coast)
First, it turns out, the timing of the eclipse can move around in interesting ways throughout the state. Each phase of this partial bite of the sun happens at almost the same time around the state, even the western U.S. But it does vary, even if only by a few minutes.
If you're thinking of Portland as the central point, each phase occurs just a bit earlier the further west you go from Portland, but a bit ater and later the farther east or the farther south you go.
Using this astronomy tool, and depending where in Portland you put your mouse, the Rose City will start seeing it at about 1:37 p.m. The partial eclipse will be at its fullest at 3:03 p.m., and it at ends at 4:22 p.m.
But head 75 miles west to Seaside on the north Oregon coast and it starts at 1:34 p.m., is at its apex at 3 p.m. exactly and then ends at 4:20 p.m. There's about a two or three-minute difference in just those 75 miles.
Keep heading south and Cannon Beach is essentially the same numbers. Down in Lincoln City on the central Oregon coast, about 100 miles away, it's a one-minute difference to Seaside. Another 50 miles to Yachats and you have yet another minute later. So from Seaside and Cannon Beach being at the apex at 3 p.m., heading 150 miles all the way to Yachats you'll see the apex at 3:02 p.m.
Not much of a difference, right?
Even down at Bandon, you've only increased by three minutes from Seaside, and here it's almost exactly the same as Portland times.
However, get down to Eureka, California, and you'll see it all about seven minutes later than the north Oregon coast.
Even more dramatic is eastern Oregon, such as at Enterprise, where everything is ten minutes later than the north Oregon coast – but about seven minutes later than Portland.
Other fun and freaky facts about Oregon coast sunsets:
According to Jim Todd of Portland's OMSI, sunsets happen about ten minutes later on the coast than in Portland. Oregon Coast Beach Connection actually clocked it in at exactly seven minutes later at one experiment, but it's difficult to say how this predicted time takes into account either Portland's West Hills or the more distant Coast Range.
According to famed astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson on his Cosmos program this past year, sunsets don't really happen when you see them. There's a bit of time travel involved. You're seeing into the past: to your eye it goes out of sight some two minutes later after it actually dipped beyond the horizon.
It's all because of the refracting and bending of light that happens in the Earth's atmosphere. What you're seeing is a kind of projection through the atmosphere, because it bends the incoming rays like a lens or a glass of water.
More Oregon coast science here.
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