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.
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.
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.
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.
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.