PostHeaderIcon Autumn Equinox Sunset Watch 2011

Time for the seasonal sunset watch. I hope you’re excited, we had such fun at the last-minute stargazing last week.

  • When: September 23, 2011 at 6:50pm (so come at 6:30pm)
    • Actual sunset is supposed to be at 7:05, but at the summer solstice we noticed that the Sun set about 10 minutes earlier than the USNO says it does, so I’ve moved the time of our sunset watch up so we don’t miss it. I added another 5 minutes for the tall trees of Lincoln Park blocking our view.
  • Where: Solstice Park – all the way up the hill from the tennis courts (or, if you’re not in Seattle, wherever you have a view of the western horizon!)
  • Who: Everyone welcome, as usual.

Sunset on June 21, 2011 at 9pm Credit: Jason Gift Enevoldsen

Today is a great day to announce the Autumn Equinox Sunset Watch because today is the Zhōngqiū Jié, 中秋節, or the Mid-Autumn Festival! Legend has it that once upon a time there were ten Suns, but Hou Yi was very strong and shot nine of them out of the sky. He was rewarded with the Elixir of Life – which would make him immortal. Unfortunately, he was so full of himself that he became a lazy tyrant, and his wife Cháng’é didn’t think it was a good idea for him to live forever, so she took the Elixir instead and began to float away. If you want to find out what happened to Cháng’é, you’ll have to come to the Sunset Watch where I will tell the whole story!

Today would be a great day to visit the Seattle Chinese Garden, here in West Seattle!

Come watch the autumn equinox sunset at Solstice Park in West Seattle on Friday the 23rd. We’ll see if the sunset lines up with the placed marker (it did for summer, but will it for fall?). I’ll be there even if it is cloudy because sometimes the Sun peeks through just as it begins to set, but if it is driving rain I’m staying home.

If you’re interested – here’s the timing of various celestial events on Saturday from Seattle, courtesy of the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department:

Sun and Moon Data for One Day
The following information is provided for Seattle, King County, Washington (longitude W122.3, latitude N47.6):

Friday 23 September 2011 Pacific Daylight Time

Begin civil twilight 6:26 a.m.
Sunrise 6:57 a.m.
Sun transit 1:02 p.m.
Sunset 7:05 p.m.
End civil twilight 7:36 p.m.

Moonset 4:22 p.m. on preceding day
Moonrise 2:13 a.m.
Moon transit 9:40 a.m.
Moonset 4:53 p.m.
Moonrise 3:30 a.m. on following day

Phase of the Moon on 23 September: waning crescent with 18% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.

Last quarter Moon on 20 September 2011 at 6:39 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

This event is my part of the NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors program, and thanks to West Seattle Blog for publicizing the last few!

Everyone is welcome, see you there!

Resources on Zhōngqiū Jié: Childbook, Chinatown Online, and Wikipedia.

~ A l i c e !

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