Sunset on the northern Maine coast in the US, view towards the Camden Hills, early July, 2023.
Sunset on the northern Maine coast in the US, view towards the Camden Hills, early July, 2023.

Our timeless fascination with sunsets and sunrises

How these light spectacles make us feel in awe

Eva Schicker
6 min readJul 14, 2023

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Sunsets are phenomenal. They captivate us beyond time. They provide us with breathtaking, end-of-day spectacles unparalleled in their beauty and rapture.

A sunset happens for the duration of the time when the sun disappears below the horizon due to Earth’s rotation. The sun rays change their colors from the day’s light yellow to dark yellow to orange to red as the sun disappears.

Light particles are the same size as particles in our atmosphere. The atmospheric particles scatter the light particles, based on the wavelengths of the colors. Colors with the highest wavelength, red, orange, and dark yellow, reach our eyes, while light yellow colors scatter and disappear, as their wavelengths are shorter, and are not reaching our eyes any longer.

The sunset appears as a symphony of yellow, orange, pink, red, and vermilion hues.

The sunset’s call to the artists

Monet’s masterful obsession with sunsets

Monet was captivated by sunset all his life. Many of his paintings reflect a palette that is reminiscent of the sun’s setting hues and tints.

Monet’s color palette is greatly inspired by the sun rays creating visions of dreamy space and timeless moments.

Sunset in Pourville, open sea

Claude Monet, Coucher de soleil à Pourville, pleine mer. 1882. Oil on canvas. Private collection. Image in public domain, Wikimedia. Photograph source: sothebys.com[1]
Claude Monet, Coucher de soleil à Pourville, pleine mer. 1882. Oil on canvas. Private collection. Image in public domain, Wikimedia. Photograph source: sothebys.com[1]

In his painting, Coucher de soleil à Pourville, pleine mer, Monet’s brush strokes are bold, layered, and differentiated in length between sky and water. The water reflects the colors of the sky, but Monet adds more emerald green to the ocean surface.

The ocean surface looks choppy, the sky agitated. The color hues range from flake white, cadmium yellow, vermilion, deep madder, to emerald green.

Monet invites us to share this timeless and poetic sunset by Pourville with him, forever.

Sunset at Étretat

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Eva Schicker

Hello. I write about UX, UI, AI, animation, tech, art & design through the eyes of a designer. UX lead Lelantos Press, NYC UX GA grad. Top writer 5x.