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Yay For More Daylight: Sunset is Now Past 8 pm for Oregon, Coastline

Published 4/17/24 at 6:35 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Portland, Oregon) – The state now gets to mark more and daylight. Parts of Oregon are going to witness a landmark in the skies tonight, April 17. (Above: Winema Beach - Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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For Portland, tonight sees sunset at exactly 8 p.m. Yet on the Oregon coast that marker has already happened. Sunset is always a few minutes later on the coastline than inland.

For the coastline today, sunset times are:

Coos Bay - 8:03 p.m.
Newport – 8:04 p.m.
Lincoln City - 8:04 p.m.
Astoria - 8:06 p.m.

Hillsboro clocks in at 8:01 p.m. - not far west from Ptown. Roseburg in southern Oregon will still be at 7:59 p.m.

On May 11, sunset happens after 8:30 p.m. in the Portland area, and then from June 12 through July 18 we'll see a few weeks of sunset just after 9 p.m.

One of the tricks about sunset prediction times is that they're always set according to a flat landscape: the time given has built into it the assumption you're looking at a horizon with no blockage. So, downtown Portland – with the West Hills looming above it – is literally going to experience the sun going down much earlier than just a few blocks east of the Willamette River that crosses through the city.

Reedsport, courtesy Manuela Durson Fine Arts 

March 19 saw the vernal equinox for Oregon, Washington, the coastlines and areas like Seattle, Portland or Ashland. This is the day, according to Jim Todd of Portland's OMSI, that both the north and south poles of the Earth are almost an equal distance to the sun – some 92.6 million miles away.

Now, as Earth hurdles towards the summer solstice, the north pole is tilting closer towards the sun, giving us more and more daylight until June.

Illusion of Sunset

Manzanita (Oregon Coast Beach Connection). Another unique oddity of sunset: Belt of Venus

If you want to get into some strange territory, the science of sunset has some startling revelations. Like the fact it's kind of a projection.

More than a decade ago, Neil deGrasse Tyson‎ - in the show Cosmos: A TimeSpace Odyssey - said we're not really seeing the sun in the place we think we're seeing it because of the speed of light and another really surprising bit of strange science.

While Tyson was actually talking about sunrise on an ocean horizon in the episode, he said because light from the sun takes eight minutes to reach us, we're really seeing the sun as it was eight minutes ago. Then, given the atmosphere and curve of the Earth, it's a whole different ballgame (in the solar sense).

Tyson's script in Cosmos said it best:

“That sun – it's not really there,” Tyson said. “It won't actually be above the horizon for another two minutes. Sunrise is an illusion. Earth's atmosphere bends the incoming rays, like a lens or a glass of water. So we see the image of the sun projected above the horizon before the physical sun is actually there.”

Conversely, the same is true of sunset: it's happened earlier than we see it.

He likened the sunrise to a mirage, “a shimmering image” in the distance, in a desert.

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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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