It’s been six months since we moved, but I’ve only recently started really exploring the area. I think I just got caught up in too much other stuff for a while.
One day a few weeks ago, I tried to make it to the nearest beach I could in time for sunset. I missed…but while on the mostly-deserted beach I caught some nice views of pink underlit clouds over the Santa Monica Mountains, and this view of a closed lifeguard tower at El Segundo Beach.
Then there was the clear afternoon when I went exploring the Palos Verdes area, looking for public parks where I could see the LA basin. Not much luck on that count, but as sunset approached, I decided to see if I could make it up to Del Cerro Park (more photos from this spot taken during daylight) up at the top of the bluffs. I did, and because the park is actually higher than the next hill over, I got to watch the sun set over the ocean and behind a hill at the same time.
I stayed up there for a good 20 minutes after sunset, watching the sky darken through twilight. It was incredibly windy that evening, and even from a thousand feet up with no direct sunlight, I could still watch the waves between the mainland and Catalina Island, moving slowly through the strait like tiny ripples in the direction of the wind.
We’ve had a couple of storms run through Los Angeles over the past week. Last Friday, I went up to the top of a parking structure after work to look at the clouds, and stayed to watch a double rainbow and the play of light at sunset.
This was the view that surprised me the most: Bright orange (a little more magenta in real life than it looks here in the photo) on the underside of the clouds, but plain gray on the sides.
Saturday night we went out to the Redondo Beach pier just in time to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. One thing that I found a bit odd was that it appeared to be setting behind a line of distant mountains. While the coast does curve westward at Santa Monica, I was pretty sure that due west of us was nothing but sea, though I figured it could have been the Channel Islands, or a very sharply-defined cloud bank.
So I did what any geek would do: looked up the angle at which the sun had set that evening.
I found two tools: The NOAA solar position calculator let me figure out, given latitude, longitude and time, the sun’s declination. Then I found another tool that let me enter the latitude, longitude, and compass bearing and see a line drawn on a map.
It turned out that the sun was setting roughly 21° north of due west, putting it roughly in line with the coast from Malibu toward Ventura…on the seaward side. The line finally connected with land out toward Point Conception, roughly 120 miles away. That’s probably too far away to be visible from near sea level, depending on how high the mountains are out there, but if the angle was off just a little bit (I did estimate the time), it could easily have be the Santa Monica mountains above Malibu (more like 20 miles).
So yes, I did watch the sun set over the ocean and over land at the same time!
Last Wednesday night I rode the Green Line home at sunset. When it wasn’t blocked by trees or houses, I had a great view of Downtown Los Angeles reflecting the orange sunlight.
After a few minutes, the train hit exactly the right angle to catch the setting sun itself reflected in all the downtown buildings! It was bright enough to completely overwhelm my cameraphone, as you can see.