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Photograph Earth’s Shadow in the Sky at Sunrise and Sunset

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I never get tired of seeing our closest star set below the horizon, and seeing how the landscape changes as the warm light gets fainter by the minute. Every sunset has its personality depending each location, weather and season. One beautiful thing about a sunset is what happens right after the Sun has set. If turn around, you can slowly see the Earth shadow rising from the horizon.

A low horizon is preferred to get a better view of the phenomena.

Midwinter sunset with a bright solar halo.
Midwinter sunset with a bright solar halo.

As twilight deepens a dark blue band slowly rises upwards from the horizon. This band is the shadow of the Earth projected on the atmosphere.

A helpful diagram by the ESO.
A helpful diagram by the ESO.

Above the blue shadow band you can also se a pink band called the anti-twilight arch or “Belt of Venus”. The pink color comes from scattered and deeply reddened sunlight mixed with the deep blues colors of the sky.

Moonrise in Earth shadow and Belt of Venus.
Moonrise in Earth shadow and Belt of Venus.

The same thing happens before a sunrise. Look in the opposite direction of the rising Sun and you will see the Earth shadow sinking towards the horizon as the Sun rises.

Earth shadow is also visible before sunrise.
Earth shadow is also visible before sunrise.

So next time you’re watching a sunrise or sunset, stay out a bit longer and don’t forget to look behind you to see the Earth’s shadow.

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About the author: Göran Strand is a professional photographer based in Östersund, Sweden. You can find more of his work on his website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. This article was also published here.


Image credits: Header illustratoin based on CC photo by Brocken Inaglory. All other photos by Göran Strand

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