Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Day the Sun Stood Still

Until yesterday, the sunset had been marching steadily north across the horizon. As of today, the sun will set a little further south each evening than it did the day before.

I took the picture above last night, around 8 p.m., a fraction before sunset. As you can see, we had enough haze in the air that the sun melted into oblivion before it hit the horizon.

(As you can also see, this is a great stretch of beach for dogs. I count at least five in this picture.)

This is from the same spot last year, taken with 35mm film and a 70-300mm zoom lens. (My digital camera has a built-in 5.8-23.2mm zoom, which is something more than that in dog years, but still not as good as a 300mm lens on a 35mm camera.) Last year there was almost no haze, so you can see the buildings on the skyline clearly. That's downtown Long Beach to the right of the palm trees, with the port and San Pedro to the left, then the rise of Palos Verdes Peninsula.

I love going to this spot for the solstice. When you watch from here, you can see the sun set exactly behind the Gerald Desmond Bridge, which is about a mile from my home. Less lithic than Stonehenge, but still a cool cosmic alignment to herald the start of summer.

The arc of the bridge echoes the circumference of the sun, with cranes marking diagonal slashes against the sky for emphasis. Gradually from this day forward the sun will set a little further to the left of the bridge, then even further, marching over behind Palos Verdes Peninsula and out into the water, nearly reaching Catalina Island by the time the winter solstice arrives and the sun turns once again to start its annual trek north.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

"Less lithic than Stonehenge" — I assume you mean lithic (of or relating to stone or rock) rather than lithic (of or relating to lithium), unless there's some connection between the solstice and manic depression that I have never heard of.