Sunset behind the Rocky Mountains [PIC]

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May 27 2013 12:41 PM

A Sunset of Considerable Beauty

I have just returned home after a few days at the wonderfully fun SpaceFest V, where I met up with old friends and heard fantastic talks by astronomers, astronauts, and space artists. I have a pile of work to catch up on and get ahead of, so for now I'll just leave this here: As we were coming home from the airport, the Sun was setting behind the Rocky Mountains' Longs Peak, so my wife and I stopped to take a few pictures of the breath-taking sight:

Longs Peak sunset
The Sun sets behind the enormous rock of Longs Peak in the Rocky Mountains. Click to cybelenate.

Photo by Phil Plait

Longs Peak is the tallest mountain I can see from home, topping out at about 4350 meters (14,260 feet). Dust and particulates in the air lit the sky up yellow and orange, and provided a backdrop against which the shadows of the mountains themselves could be cast. These are called crepuscular rays, and are one of my favorite sky phenomena. Despite what you see with your own eyes here, the rays are actually parallel. Perspective can be a tricky thing.

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I'll note that in America, today is Memorial Day, where we honor those who have fallen fighting for this country. I prefer to expand that to anyone we have lost, especially those who have tried in some way to make the world a better place. Don't forget to thank the ones you still have with you, and remember the ones who are not.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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