Tuesday, October 25, 2011


My husband and I drove east last week.  We had our dogs with us and were headed to a sheep dog trial.  we left our home near Puget Sound well before dawn.  The road we travelled took us due east across White Pass just south of Mt. Rainier in the Cascade Mountains.  The Cascades have a long gradual slope to the West - a steeper slope to the east.  We drove into the rising sun.  The mountain peaks were backlighted as dawn approached.  We drove through nautical dawn, a time that I know well from years lived in Ketchikan, Alaska at latitude 55.35.  At that latitude, in the weeks near the summer solstice the night gets no darker than nautical dawn.  Nautical dawn - or dusk - is the time when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon.  At nautical dawn objects begin to stand out.  In Ketchikan, we started out fishing at nautical dawn. 

We drove on and crossed White Pass onto the eastern slope of the mountains at civil dawn.  In Anchorage Alaska, latitude 61.17, city league baseball games are scheduled in civil dawn which lasts all night at the solstice.  At civil dawn the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. As we descended the pass, the sun rose.  We looked back at the red glow on Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.  This was a good way to start the day.

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