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Trippy Sides of Oregon Coast Astronomy This Week: Slower Sunsets, Champagne Moon

Published 06/25/2018 at 5:32 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Trippy Sides of Oregon Coast Astronomy This week: Slower Sunsets, Champagne Moon

(Portland, Oregon) – The moon and the sunsets are playing some interesting tricks on those heading to the Oregon coast and those who live around the state. Sunsets are slightly longer for a little bit and there will be some changes in the color of the moon to look out for. (Above: a summer moon on the Oregon coast).

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One lovely side effect of the summer solstice (which just happened on June 21) is that these sunsets are the slowest, giving you a few more tiny seconds to gaze out along the vistas of the Oregon coast. That effect is fading quickly, however.

Coming up over Oregon and the coast is June’s full Strawberry Moon, said Jim Todd of Portland’s OMSI. On June 27 at 9:53 p.m., the full moon reaches its highest point this month, due south. Which isn't saying much.

“Despite being at its highest in the sky, viewers in Portland (12:30 a.m. on June 27 or 1:19 a.m. on June 28) may struggle to see it, as it is very low 23 degrees in the sky,” Todd said.

Indeed, the full moon that’s nearest the summer solstice is always the lowest full moon of the year. You’ll also see champagne color as it rises from the east.

“And because full moons occur when the moon is directly opposite the sun, you can imagine the two as sitting on either sides of a celestial see-saw,” Todd said. “On the day when the sun is highest in the middle of the day (in summer), the moon is at its lowest high point at midnight. And on the day when the sun is at its lowest high point in the middle of the day (in winter), the moon is at its highest high point at midnight.”

December’s highest point sees the moon more than 68 degrees above the southern horizon. June’s moon struggles at 25 degrees into the sky.


On the Oregon coast, taking pics of the moon at night will be fun when looking south – if you’re on a high viewpoint. At places like Cape Foulweather near Depoe Bay (photo above) or Manzanita’s Neahkahnie Overlooks, you’ll get a nice elongated reflection across the sea because of that angle. However, even flat beaches can get this stunning effect more often now.

So why does the moon get that honey or champagne color during the summer? Todd said it has to do with distance and the atmosphere.

“It's actually much farther away from you than when it is overhead, so its light has to travel through a lot more atmosphere to reach you. Along the way, some of the colors (blue, green and purple) get refracted (deflected off their path because of their short wavelength), by the particles in the air. The strong light waves that do make it are red, yellow and orange, the colors with the longest wavelengths.”

Other fascinating sights are in the skies above the Oregon coast and the inland state areas like Portland. A host of planets are putting on a show; see the following article: Planets Make Show on Oregon Coast; Saturn Burns Bright ----  Oregon Coast Hotels for this - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

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