Stunning: The sun’s swift southward shift at sunrise in Washington, D.C. (PICTURES)

(Left) Sunrise on September 17, 2013;  (Middle) Sunrise on September 19, 2013; (Right) Sunrise on September 24, 2013.

These three panes show sunrises that occurred within a seven day span, starting on September 17 and ending on September 24.  Note the position of the sun moves south in each sunrise photo.  (Left) The sunrise on September 17, 2013; (Middle) The sunrise on September 19, 2013; (Right) The sunrise on September 24, 2013.  The sun is currently moving south at almost half of a degree per day.   We just passed the autumnal equinox on September 22.  (Kevin Ambrose)

Last Sunday, the autumnal equinox occurred when the sun passed over the equator and began to move from a position over the Northern Hemisphere to a position over the Southern Hemisphere.  The days are getting shorter; the angle of the sun is lower in the sky each day; and the position of the sun at sunrise moves south each day until the winter solstice on December 21.

Animation of three sunrise shoots (Kevin Ambrose)

Animation of three sunrise shoots from Sept. 17, 19, and 24. (Kevin Ambrose)

I decided to shoot three sunrises in a span of week, around the equinox, to show the speed in which the sun is tracking south across our sky.  The challenge was to find three perfectly clear mornings to provided a good view of the sun and similar sky conditions.  Luckily, our weather cooperated with my plans.

The sunrise on September 17, 2013.  (Kevin Ambrose)

The sunrise on September 17, 2013.  The sun position is well left of the Capitol.  (Kevin Ambrose)

I have provided photos from three different sunrises that I photographed from September 17 to September 24.  It’s easy to see how quickly the sun is shifting south.  I also provided a view of ducks on the Reflecting Pool from each sunrise shoot.

The Reflecting Pool is quite active with wildlife in the morning.  My only complaint was that there were swarms of bugs that seemed to hatch and swarm over the water.  The bugs seemed particularly bad on September 17.  I was covered with bugs during my shoot but they didn’t bite.

The sun will continue on its trek southward until the winter solstice on December 21 and the days will continue to get shorter.  In a few weeks, the Reflecting Pool will not be the optimal location for shooting a sunrise due to the angle of the sun.  I often shift my sunrise photography to the Tidal Basin as winter approaches.

The sunrise on September 19, 2013.  (Kevin Ambrose)

The sunrise on September 19, 2013.  The sun position is just to the left of the Capitol.   (Kevin Ambrose)

During the equinox, the sunrise rises due east which is in line with our National Mall and the Capitol, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial.  It’s a great time to photograph the sunrise and sunset.  The light of the sunrise also shines into the Lincoln Memorial and casts a glow on the statue of Lincoln.  I have included a photo below that shows Lincoln glowing like a copper penny.

In addition, during the time period around the autumnal equinox, we have a harvest moon.  I photographed the harvest moon setting over the Lincoln Memorial during dawn on September 19.  Here is a link to the post.

The sunrise on September 24, 2013.  (Kevin Ambrose)

The sunrise on September 24, 2013.  The sun position is right of the Washington Monument.  (Kevin Ambrose)

Before each sunrise shoot, I was quite intrigued with how the lights on the Washington Monument’s scaffolding went off at different times, in large blocks.  There are 488 lamps on sensors that control when the monument’s lights turn on and off. Finally, on my last sunrise trip, I decided I had to video record the lights turning off.  I shot the Washington Monument from fully lit to no lights and I have included the time-lapse video below.

One last note, if you live in the Washington area, you should try to watch a sunrise from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, just one time.  It’s beautiful!  Try to target the fall equinox for the best view angle and often times, some of the best weather for our area.

A clear dawn on September 17, 2013.  (Kevin Ambrose)

A clear dawn with ducks on the Reflecting Pool, September 17, 2013. (Kevin Ambrose)

Ducks swim across the Reflecting Pool during sunrise on September 19, 2013.  (Kevin Ambrose)

Ducks swim across the Reflecting Pool during sunrise, September 19, 2013. (Kevin Ambrose)

The sun is just starting to rinse on September 24, 2013.  (Kevin Ambrose

The sun is just starting to rise as a lone duck swims across the Reflecting Pool, September 24, 2013. (Kevin Ambrose)

 

The light from sunrise Illuminates the Jefferson Memorial, September 24, 2013. (Kevin Ambrose)

The Lincoln Memorial is bathed in light from the rising sun on September 24, 2013. (Kevin Ambrose)

This is a time-lapse video that I shot on September 24 while I waited to photograph the sunrise in Washington. The video shows how the lights of the Washington Monument are turned off in large blocks as the light of dawn grows brighter.

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