I have a stupid question (what's new? lol)

TheWife

New Member
I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

Why does the sun look smaller in the higher altitudes when it sets, then it does in lower altitudes, where it's farther away, like the ocean. I always see these pics of the ocean and this enormous setting sun, and I don't get it cause I am closer to the sun and it ain't all the big when it sets here. TIA
 

aloft

New Member
Re: I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

2 different questions here. Atmospheric effects can appear to magnify its size (you're looking through more of the atmosphere when the sun is low in the sky, and through less when it's high in the sky). As for the sun in pictures, telephoto lenses used in sunset photos make distant things look bigger, and also compress the appearance of distance between near and distant objects, distorting relative size comparisons.
 

SkyGirl

New Member
Re: I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

Obviously, the size of the sun doesnt change, but the cues our brain uses to determine size change as the sun moves through the sky. Usually, we perceive distant objects as being smaller. At sunset, it is closest to our normal point of view and is in line with familiar objects, so we determine it to be larger. Whereas, when the sun is over head, its further from familiar objects, so there is no prominent reference for comparing its size and we perceive it as being further away and thus smaller.
 

TheWife

New Member
Re: I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

Huh. Thanks, that was very insightful. Some day I'd like to see the moon like it looked in Joe vs. The Volcano
 

RPM

Well-Known Member
Re: I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

It is an optical illusion. The Sun and the Moon both appear bigger when low on the horizon because you have foreground objects close by to allow you to compare sizes.
The colour of the Sun changes due to the atmosphere. If you take a look through a prism, or onto a compact disc, you can see a variety of colours that makes up white light. All these colours bend by different amounts, with blue light bending best. Red light hardly bends at all. Yellow light bends more than red but not as much as blue (blue light bends best!) - yellow is midway between the two. When the Sun is low on the horizon, most of the other colours are bent away from our line of sight. All apart from the red colour.
When we actually see the Sun low on the horizon, it has already gone below the horizon! But the red light is bent so much, that it is bent by the atmosphere around the Earth, and into your eyes.
 

TheWife

New Member
Re: I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

I'm going to have to read that very slowly a few times but don't worry-it'll sink in eventually. Lol. I'm impressed. I didn't know if anyone would have an answer.
 

RPM

Well-Known Member
Re: I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

Just don't ask any calculus questions
 

Derg

Cap, Roci
Staff member
Re: I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

Sometimes, when I was on the beach in San Diego, you can almost hear it sizzle as the sun sets in the Pacific.

Weird man!
 

Mr_Creepy

Well-Known Member
Re: I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

It's optical but not an illusion! The image is actually larger from what I remember in physics class. At the horizon the light image goes through a considerably larger chunk of the atmosphere due to the angle and it is "stretched" by the thicker atmosphere.

At least that's what my college prof told me
 

PhotoPilot

New Member
Re: I have a stupid question (what\'s new? lol)

All answers have been correct, though some have more influence than others. In the photos you've seen, the telephoto lenses and size cues from objects on the horizon are the biggest contributors. But, all of that has already been covered . . .

The real reason for the post is a response to Doug's post: Has anyone watched the sun set over a large body of water that stretches well beyond the horizon to the west? Sometimes, just as the sun disappears, there's a quick flash of emerald green as the light bounces through the upper layers of water. It happens on the Pacific and, to a smaller degree, on Lake Superior (But only from the Eastern Canadian shore). I've spent years on the water and chasing sunsets as a photographer and I've only seen the 'flash' a dozen times, but it's pretty cool when it happens. I'd guess that there's a specific combination of atmospheric, water, and seasonal conditions that have to be met for it to all work out. I've never seen it at sunrise, though. Anyone know why?
 
Top