Letter | Published:

A Remarkable Sunset

Naturevolume 32page626 (1885) | Download Citation



WHILE out for a walk this afternoon I was struck by a peculiarity in the sunset which I do not remember to have seen noticed before. The sun set about 4.43 p.m., and there was the usual “after-glow.” I began to notice this first about five o'clock; there was then in the west a large bank of cumulus cloud rather low down, above this was a brilliant lemon-yellow, very bright, and this was bounded by a broad arc of a pale pink, the latter fading away into the light blue of the sky. Very soon afterwards I noticed that the pink arc, instead of being continuous, was really made up of a series of beams of bright light, which pointed to the position of the sun. I counted these, and made out five bright rays at unequal distances apart; behind this (as it seemed) there were a few yellow cirrus clouds. A sunset like this I have often noticed before, but what followed is, I think, novel. The bright rays were slowly turning round like the spokes of a huge wheel moving in a direction contrary to the hands of a watch. I noticed also that the breadth between the bright rays altered, two of them seeming to almost coalesce. In about ten minutes' time one ray turned approximately through 90°, and a new ray brighter than the other appeared on the right. The altitude of a ray when vertical was from 30° to 40°, I should say. By 5.15 the rays became very faint and soon vanished, though above the dark bank of cloud I could detect a faint crimson-lake glow.

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  1. Cains College, Cambridge



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