Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Startling Oregon Coast Astronomy: Sunset an Illusion, Says Cosmos' Tyson

Published 03/31/2014


(Oregon Coast) – The next time you're hitting a beach and watching the sun come up (for the east coast) or go down (for the Oregon coast), you may want to stop to think about the fact you're not seeing quite what you think you're seeing.

Sunday night's episode of “Cosmos: A TimeSpace Odyssey” (Fox network, 9 p.m. on Sundays) revealed something a bit mind-shattering, which has its implications for those glorious sunsets on the Oregon coast. Host Neil deGrasse Tyson‎ 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.

Even more startling, however, is that when it comes to sunrise on an ocean or flat landscape (and conversely sunset as well) we're only seeing a projection of the sun. It's not technically in that spot – not yet.

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.”

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

Now, you can look at those wild, glorious colors of an Oregon coast sunset and realize you're seeing into the past – sort of. You're seeing the sun go out of sight some two minutes later because of that atmospheric projection process. Sunset is delayed - while sunrise is seen sooner than it actually happens.

This kind of bending and refracting of light also has something to do with the famed but rare Green Flash at Sunset, so seldom seen on the Oregon coast.

There is always a bit of time travel involved while looking at the moon and sun. That light of the moon reflecting off the nighttime waves at say, Cannon Beach (as above) or Depoe Bay, takes about one second to get here.

"From Earth, we can only ever see the sun as it was eight minutes ago," Tyson said.

Tyson noted the sun doesn't really rise or descend – it's simply that the Earth is turning.

“While I'm at it, that horizon is not really there at all. There is no edge. The horizon is just another illusion.”

Tyson also talked about the fact the Earth is hurtling through space “faster than a jet,” as he strolled calmly on this beach. Think about that the next time you're talking a quiet walk along the Oregon coast.

More of the region below; more Oregon coast science here.







More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

 

A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss
Pacific City, Oregon

 


Breathtaking high panoramic beach views from oceanfront rooms, spacious family suites & fully equipped cottages.  Known for gracious hospitality, the sparkling clean Sea Horse features a heated indoor pool, dramatic oceanfront spa, great whale watching, free deluxe continental breakfast, conference room, free casino shuttle & HBO.  Fireplaces, private decks and spas are available in select rooms.  Close to shops, golf, fishing & restaurants.  Pets are welcome in select rooms.  Senior discounts.  Kids 18 and under stay free in their parent's room.  Very attractive rates.
Lincoln City’s only resort hotel built right on the beach with all oceanfront rooms - nestled against a rugged cliffside overlooking a soft, sandy beach. Dine in penthouse restaurant and bar, for casual meal or candlelight dinner. An array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other Northwest favorites, including decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range from bedrooms to studios to 1-bedroom suites with microwaves and refrigerators to full kitchens. Also, wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise room and year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game room and easy beach access. Full-service conference/meeting rooms for that inspirational retreat; extensive wedding possibilities.

 

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Four Diverse Oregon Coast Hangouts: from Gnarly to Nice, Mild to Wild
These hangouts allow you a chance to stop and goof around the beach or to dart away from the squalls. Oceanside, Nye Beach, Fort Stevens, history, Wheeler
Four Amazing Creature Facts on Oregon Coast: Even the Paranormal
There's a lot we don't know about in the deep, and sometimes some of that washes up onshore
Oh, the Lowly Sand Flea: They Should be Exalted on the Oregon Coast
When it comes to the Oregon coast, you've got it all wrong about the sand flea. Science, Seaside Aquarium
Short Beach on N. Oregon Coast Has Tales to Tell: Historical Oceanside Fun Facts
World War II history, a road still closed, local legends
Oregon Coast Travel Tips: So Much Depoe Bay, So Little Time
You really need two or more days to properly explore the sites and sights of Depoe Bay and the surrounding four to five miles. kids
Secret Garden Tour and More Photo Hiking Clinics on Central Oregon Coast
Secret Garden Tour of Otter Rock and more hiking / photography clinics happening in Lincoln City. Depoe Bay events, Lincoln City events
Oregon Coast Citizen Science Day and Talk on Tsunami Debris
The weekend of June 24 and 25 will be a special weekend on the central Oregon coast that's entirely devoted to the Otter Rock Marine Reserve. Depoe Bay events
Oregon Coast Sunsets: the Crazy, Mind-Bending Science; Longest Day of Year
There are some things you can't see anywhere but an ocean environment like here

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted