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Mt. Pilchuck Sunset

The Summer Solstice (longest day of the year) never seemed very special to me when I was growing up in Cincinnati Ohio, but, living in the Pacific Northwest the Summer Solstice marks a sunset that is five hours later than in the winter! For example for the year 2006 in Seattle the sunsets at 4:18 PM between December 6th and 16th. However, between June 20th and July 1st the sun doesn't set until 9:11 PM! I wanted to see that late sunset so we hiked to the peak of Mt. Pilchuck. I knew that the Sunset time was based on the Earth being flat and I hadn't though much about how the height of Mt. Pilchuck would change the sunset time, but, when we got to the top we discovered that 5,324 foot peak of Mt. Pilchuck the sunset was 11 minutes later at 9:22 PM.

Our hike to the peak of Mt. Pilchuck took about 2 hours up and 1.5 hours down. The trail is about six miles long round trip.

To better understand why the time the sunsets changes check out, Eric Weisstein's Wrold of Astronomy and his Seasons QuckTime Movie. As I was looking out toward the horizon with the setting sun I wondering where in the world someone might be looking back at me enjoying the sunrise. After a little searching I found out that Bordeaux, France had a sunrise time very close to the time we were watching the sunset from Mt. Pilchuck.

Sunset Seattle, Washington, USA June 23rd, 2006: 9:11 PM (UTC/GMT -8 +1 daylight saving time)
Sunrise Bordeaux, France June 24th, 2006, 6:17 AM (UTC/GMT +1 +1 daylight saving time)

(June 23rd, 2006)

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This is one of the first views of neighboring mountain peaks from the Mt. Pilchuck trail. Still some snow in the low lying areas. Mt. Baker in the distance. The trail became steep. Note that Celia's right hand is touching the ground while she is standing up. With the steep grade and snow I slipped. You can see some water drops on the camera lens in this shot.
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Looking up toward the Mt. Pilchuck peak.
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Some of the first views of Puget Sound with the Olympic mountains in the distance. It looks like we are going to make it! The sun is still high above the horizon and we are nearing the peak of Mt. Pilchuck. Mt. Rainier in the distance from Mt. Pilchuck. Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, Lake Stevens from Mt. Pilchuck.
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We made it! The large rocks are the jagged rocky peak of Mt. Pilchuck with the setting sun in the background. Looking down the Northeast side of Mt. Pilchuck a snow field can be seen. I found the texture of the snow form this distance very interesting. A close of up that snow field and it's interesting texture from the peak of Mt. Pilchuck. Northeasterly view from Mt. Pilchuck.
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Here is the old Fire Lookout on the peak of Mt. Pilchuck. This picture is of the West side of the lookup. The setting sun from the deck of the Mt. Pilchuck Fire Lookout. Looking Northwest from Mt. Pilchuck the mountains look like rumble strips on the road with the colors of the setting sun on the horizon. The sun has almost set as seen from Mt. Pilchuck.
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As the sun sets from Puget Sound can be seen more clearly from Mt. Pilchuck.
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Looking East from the South side of the Mt. Pilchuck Fire Lookout. Looking North from the West side of the Mt. Pilchuck Fire Lookout.

Click on a thumbnail above to see a larger version of the picture.

Last updated: 7/2/06