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Summer Solstice Tomorrow: What It Means for Oregon, the Coast

Published 06/19/2017 at 6:34 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Summer Solstice Tomorrow: What It Means for Oregon, the Coast

(Oregon Coast) – Tuesday is not only the longest day of the year but also the changeover from spring to summer. Yet ironically, the actual moment of change from spring to summer happens just after the sun goes down.

For the Oregon coast, there is an added element of surprise: sunset happens an extra seven minutes or so later than inland places like Portland.

According to astronomy expert Jim Todd of Portland's OMSI, for the Pacific Time Zone, summer solstice is Tuesday, June 20. This is the day that the Earth is tilted so that the north pole is at its closest point with the sun.

“Yet, the earth will be at its farthest distance from the sun, called aphelion, on July 4,” Todd said. “As a result there will be more minutes of sunlight in the northern hemisphere than there are at any other time of the year. The summer solstice is the time of the year when the sun stops its northern climb and stands briefly before turning back toward the equator.”

Todd said the word “solstice” is derived from the Latin sol-stitium, for sun-standing.

For Portland, Todd said the sun will reach its highest northern point in the sky at 67.54 degrees from the horizon on June 20 and 21 at approximately 1:12 p.m.

“From March 21 until September 24, there are more hours of daylight than darkness,” Todd said.

After that, days slowly grow shorter until December 21, the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year. That's another six months away, when the Earth has made half its yearly trip around the sun.

For the Oregon coast, things get a bit interesting. Sunset happens approximately seven minutes later than inland. At least between Portland and the north coast. The spread changes when you get closer to the southern Oregon coast.

So if you want just a tad more daylight, head to the beaches.

Of course, sunrise happens later on the coast as well.

The exact moment the sun goes down is tricky: it depends on where you are in relation to mountainous areas. The almanac always bases sunset times on a flat horizon and unimpeded view of the sunset. Those in downtown Portland or even SE Portland will see the sun go down much sooner because of the west hills, but Beaverton will only have the distant coast range to block the sunset.

However, for the Oregon coast, the almanac sunset times are always lumped in with Portland and the I-5 corridor. Because the shoreline is about 75 miles west of most valley towns, that time is approximately seven minutes later. Oregon Coast Beach Connection tested it once and found that difference between the actual sunset time and that which was listed NOAA tables. Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

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