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Much of Oregon Finally Sees Sunset Past 5 p.m. - Coast Already There

Published 1/20/24 at 8:55 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Much of Oregon Sees Sunset Past 5 p.m. - Coast Already There

(Long Beach, Washington) – Portland, Oregon finally gets to see the sunset past 5 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday), but Seattle, Washington won't get to see that for another six days. The Oregon and Washington coast, however, are already there. (Above: Sunset and a sun pillar at Seaside / Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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Also notable in our skies: there's a penumbral lunar eclipse coming to the region which could be an astronomical kick in the pants.

Finally, Portland gets a sunset past 5 pm. on Sunday, something that hasn't been the case since November. It happens at 5:01 p.m. After the long, dreary last week of snow and ice this could be a welcome milestone to many, though it'll be near impossible to tell the difference visually.

In the meantime, the Oregon coast and Washington coast have already been there – it's a little like traveling into the future if you head out now.

Sunset in Coos Bay was at 5:12 p.m. today, and in Cannon Beach it was at 5:03. In Westport it was at 5:01 today – that Washington coast town's first sight of sunset beyond 5 p.m. for the year.

Coos Bay has been after 5 p.m. since January 10.

Seattle, meanwhile, won't see sundown past 5 p.m. until January 26.

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With the Washington coast and Oregon coast being some 70 miles or more from the valley and I-5 Corridor, sunset simply happens later. So, if you want a little more daylight at the end of the day, head to the beach.

Of course, the flipside is sunrise is a little later out there too.

Sunset times are always given by a point of view of no barriers between you and the horizon. That means for downtown Portland and much of SE, the West Hills block that view and sunset's last rays are seen markedly earlier.

Jim Todd, astronomy expert with Portland's OMSI, explained.

“They are talking about the true horizon, where it is zero degrees,” Todd said.

The Oregon coast is where you can witness just that kind of flat landscape – or in this case, seascape.

Another fun and oddball fact: winter sunsets take a little bit longer. The end of twilight is defined as when the sun dips 18 degrees below the horizon. Todd said this point is reached more quickly in the summer than in the winter because of the arc of the sun. This translates to winter sunsets lingering just a little longer than in summer.

Bandon: Photo Courtesy Manuela Durson Fine Arts

After sunset comes what is called Blue Hour – or twilight. The last of that light usually disappears by a half hour later.

About two months away, Oregon and Washington can look forward to the penumbral lunar eclipse on March 24. It's not going to darken to any perceptible degree, except by some with the right photographic equipment. Since there's still some of the light getting past the Earth after it wanders between the Sun and Moon, the shadow won't have a huge effect.

The Moon is actually passing in front of the outer edge of the Earth's shadow.

Along the Washington coast or Oregon coast, even photographing it correctly will depend on the weather.

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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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