Colorado Sunsets


Here in Colorado, November is the month of great sunrises and sunsets. The weather patterns settle down after the summer monsoon season, and standing clouds (often lenticular clouds) persist next to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Colorado Sunset 1

Tonight’s sunset was a perfect example: I’d watched the clouds sit in place all day. Around mid-day there was a reasonable bit of cloud cover over the mountains themselves, but as afternoon progressed, those cleared, leaving only the standing clouds you see in the photo above.

Colorado Sunset 2

While the sunset didn’t quite develop into the glories of this past weekend (which was quite exceptional), it was great to see nonetheless.

With views to the west obstructed only by the mountain peaks of the continental divide, and clear skies beyond, colour can persist long after local sunset. (For more information on the factors involved in determining how long to wait, you can check out our “Waiting for the Light” Infographic.)

The first photo above was taken at 4:44pm today, 9 minutes after local sunset:

You can see the mountains to the west on the map. The grey pin marks the continental divide, along the line of the sun position. Note how the sun continues to travel north after it has set (it’s 2° below the horizon by this time). The lateral movement of the sun during twilight can be significant at moderate latitudes (it’s less pronounced here at 40°N than it is, say, in Scotland at 56 or more degrees north).