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Summer Solstice, Sunset Past 9 pm for Oregon / Washington Coast - Star Parties

Published 6/13/24 at 6:15 a.m.
B Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Yachats, Oregon) – Even though nights have been exceptionally chilly as of late, actual summer is about to start. Oregon's coastline and the Washington coast will soon see Summer Solstice and a rather distinctive celebration, while much of the region is getting sunset beyond 9 p.m. for awhile. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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For those wandering the beaches of places like La Push, Bandon, Port Orford, Newport, Seaside or Ocean Park, get ready for summer's official launch on Thursday, June 20.

In the Oregon Coast Range and the Columbia Gorge, you can celebrate with OMSI not with some wild dancing but with telescopes.

That day is not just some old pagan holiday: it's full-on astronomy. The solstice is when the Sun is directly above the Earth's Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere, said Jim Todd, planetarium manager at Portland's OMSI. It's the northernmost that the Sun gets all year.

Actual times differ slightly once you get down into the south Oregon coast or northern Washington coast, but Portland has the general timing for much of the region on the precise moment of Solstice.

“As seen from Portland (45N) on June 20, the noon sun will reach its highest point in the sky near 68 degrees from the southern horizon,” Todd told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “We will have nearly 15 hours and 41 minutes of daylight, with sunrise at 5:21 a.m. and sunset at 9:03 p.m. “

Compare that to the winter solstice when the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky, with only 9 hours of daylight.


Ilwaco, Washington Coast

It just so happens 45 N runs almost right through Cascade Head between Lincoln City and Neskowin.

From that day through the equinox in September, Oregon and Washington will see nearly 93 days of summer.

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

“Solstice comes from the Latin words sol, meaning Sun and sistere, meaning to come to a stop or stand still,” Todd said. “On the day of the June solstice, the Sun reaches its northernmost position, as seen from the Earth. At that moment, its zenith does not move north or south as during most other days of the year, but it stands still at the Tropic of Cancer. It then reverses its direction and starts moving south again.”

Meanwhile, closer to the ground, as of June 12 sunsets will be just after 9 p.m. in the region around Portland, lasting for a little less than a month. That started a bit earlier on the Oregon coast and Washington coast because those areas are westward. July 8 will be the last day of sunset after 9 p.m. (that ends sooner on the coast as well).


Near Gold Beach, courtesy Manuela Durson - Manuela Durson Fine Arts

The summer solstice astronomy parties put on by OMSI and Rose City Astronomers are called Star Party, and they happen on June 15 rather than the actual 20th. They're at Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park (in the Coast Range off Highway 26) starting at sunset. The party is free with $5 parking per vehicle parking fee. From beginners to experts of all ages, here’s your opportunity to view the stars and other objects through a variety of telescopes.

On the scheduled day of each OMSI Star Parties, it is suggested that interested visitors check at omsi.edu for possible weather-related cancellations.

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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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