Last week it was my good fortune to enjoy a vacation in the Los Angeles area thanks to some generous hosts and lovely companions. Each day held the prospect of watching the setting of the sun. Some days were more dynamic than other days that were filled with more clouds.
We took some pictures of the better days, and it reminded me of a topic in a recently completed book.
The setting was in Philadelphia where the Constitution framers were working diligently to craft our republic. A picture on the wall was the subject of some debate over whether it portrayed a rising or setting sun. You could probably imagine Ben Franklin in the middle of such a debate (which could have been the origin of a $100 question — if you get my drift).
It seemed along with the birth of a nation the argument concluded with the idea the sun was rising so as to serve as a metaphor for a new light dawning on the earth.
How would one discern whether a photo of the sun on the horizon was rising or setting without the benefit of landmarks or the knowledge of east or west?
Ben Franklin did not have the benefit of asking Google or The Oracle of Wifi as I like to call it. My Google search revealed the following answer from the site http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/sunrise-or-sunset/ .
When looking at a picture of the sun, how could you tell whether it’s rising or setting?
Although there’s no way to tell with certainty, there are a couple of clues you can study.
Let’s think about what happens to the atmosphere during the day. It warms up, which means it can hold more moisture, and traffic and other activities churn a certain amount of dust and pollutants into it.
All this extra stuff in the air can make the sunset much redder than the sunrise. It also can make the light more diffuse. Artists sometimes remark that the light at sunset is softer and warmer than the sharp light at sunrise.
However, rain or other weather spoilsports can disrupt this pattern. Another clue is the ground, which cools overnight. This can cause dew to condense and mist to form in the air near the ground.
If there’s any rising mist or dew in your photo, chances are it’s sunrise.
Other topics included:
Why Are Nights More Calm Compared To The Day?
Warm Spells And Snow
Red Sky at Night
Answers to such questions are myriad in this day and age, and with inflation it seems Franklin may need to trade up to say a $1 million bill so a million dollar question can be enough to get people’s attention.
If you find yourself pondering such trivia, it might mean you are on vacation.