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This post is titled, “Orange Dawn,” but mauve and peach share the honors; it could equally have been called, “Tricolor Dawn.”

Richly colored dawns like this usually occur in the frigid period from late November to early January, when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky, and farthest to the southeast. Occasionally, they may be seen earlier in mild October, when the sun rises just south of east. Two of the latter are linked below.

Spectacular dawns are high altitude affairs: the clouds are both high and distant, catching the early rays of the sun before it rises above the horizon and washes out their ephemeral beauty. Because they’re far, the cloud formations appear to us at a shallow angle, giving intensity to their colors. This in turn is possible because the sun, itself, is far (southerly) this time of year.

These scenes were recorded just seconds apart, at 6:56 am on October 12, 2012. For the second and third shots, I progressively extended the zoom lens to bring the scene closer. It’s interesting to see how this reframing transforms the scene.

Which do you prefer? If pressed, I’d choose the middle one, as slightly more dramatic, more “magical.” Below each image I’ve noted the focal length of the zoom lens, in 35mm terms, for those who may be interested.

See related posts: Vapor Trails at Dawn*, Pearly Dawn*.

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2 Responses to Orange Dawn*

  1. Sara says:

    Thank you for explanation on an orange dawn. This morning the entire east side of the house was aglow in orange light. I looked out the window and saw the most intense orange daybreak that I have ever seen. It lasted for quite a while and then turned into a soft lavender. This evening as the sun sets there is quite a bit of orange in the sky. I was more than curious because I have only noticed an orange glow during forest fires. I live in a frigid location so your explanation really made sense.

  2. Dick Quinn says:


    The sun never ceases to amaze.

    Here are two of my sun pics.

    A sunset from our deck in Sisters, OR:


    A sunset at Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle, WA:


    Click “Next” to see the series.

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