There are a number of websites and apps out there that help you track sunset and sunrise times so that you can plan your shoots around specific golden hour lighting. SunsetWx is a new website that takes things to the next level: it can forecast the quality of the upcoming sunset in your area (in the United States).
Created by three Pennsylvania-based meteorologists, the sunrise and sunset models take into account things like humidity, pressure changes, and clouds at various levels in the atmosphere. Wispy, high-altitude clouds are indications of a “high quality” sunset/sunrise, while low and thick clouds lower the score. Forecasts are displayed as a color-coded map of the continental US — a better sunset is indicated by warmer colors.
You can read a detailed explanation of how the model works on the SunsetWx website. There’s also a case study PDF that shows photos that were taken side-by-side with the SunsetWx map generated at the time.
“We take it for granted sometimes that we have nature and weather around us,” co-founder Jacob DeFlitch tells Slate. “This, hopefully, will help people to go out and see for themselves.”
Hey west coast! Sunset forecast (valid 5pm PST) – looks like the SW deserts look best tonight. Send your photos! pic.twitter.com/PkrTyXbGGp
— Sunset Weather (@sunset_wx) November 30, 2015
Head on over to the SunsetWx website if you’d like to examine the latest forecasts for where you live.