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This is a very silly question and I really don't know the answer to it but curious to know.


Everytime I see the pics of suset on beaches the sun appear to go all the way down to the surface of the sea (as shown in the picture) but when I see sunset in my region , the sun disappears well above the horizon.

enter image description here

enter image description here

Why does that happen ?

EDIT :- A better picture of the sunset.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Not a silly question. From the picture, it looks like the Sum might be disappearing into low clouds or haze. Sometimes they are hard to see against the sky. Mountains can do this too. Is this happening? $\endgroup$
    – mmesser314
    Apr 14, 2023 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ @mmesser314 no I don't think these are due to clouds as these happen daily and the same used to happen when I lived at my home (which is 500 km away from where I live now) too. So I don't think they are due to clouds.. $\endgroup$
    – Ankit
    Apr 14, 2023 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ Also every pic of sunset I have taken has those dark regions below the sun which I don't know why !! I thought they are due to some optical phenomenon and I thought to ask this in a separate question.. $\endgroup$
    – Ankit
    Apr 14, 2023 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ With your new picture, it appears that the sun fades away in the haze in your area. The air is very clear in the top picture. Is that correct? That can be explained. $\endgroup$
    – mmesser314
    Apr 14, 2023 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ @mmesser314 mhmm.. $\endgroup$
    – Ankit
    Apr 14, 2023 at 14:33

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Your 3rd photo makes it rather obvious that either it's dusty, or there's a (rather uniform) layer of clouds sufficiently thick to hide direct sunlight from the camera.

If you watch such a sunset long enough, you'll notice that the solar disk disappears by gradually fading out, rather than by being cut from below as it happens in clear weather. So, either you need to wait for clear weather, or make your observations from a better location.

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This is a sunset in the Corinth gulf in Greece on a clear day taken from Loutraki. Date July 31/'17

sunset loutraki

On the left is the Peloponnese promontory, on the right the the promontory of lake Heraion.

On the way to lake Heraion I stopped on purpose in Loutraki and took the picture exactly because the weather conditions were perfect to show a perfect dip of the sun behind the water horizon. Such clear weather conditions may happen once or twice a year during the time the sun is in the interval over the water.

You say:

Everytime I see the pics of suset on beaches the sun appear to go all the way down to the surface of the sea

It is not the beach that allows for perfect dips of the sun, but the water horizon on the west. In your picture the reason you can see the horizon is because the land faces west over water. Sea water on the surface of the earth has the lowest distance from the center of mass of the earth because of the nature of fluids, so it is the level at which the image of the sun will begin to sink below a well defined horizon.

In my picture there is a very small interval where the sun sets over water. The rest of the time the sea horizon is much lower then the hills seen on the left and right and it gets worse in cloudy and misty weather.

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Sun cannot set well above horizon. However, there may be an illusion where sun's position at horizon may appear slightly different than it actually is due to atmospheric refraction. It may be useful to read this. Also, in the second image, there appars to be layer of clouds under the sun, maybe the sun is disappearing behind those while still remaining above horizon, i.e. not setting.

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  • $\begingroup$ A natural reason for such atmospheric refraction is due to temperature gradients. The ground is often hotter than the air at such times, as the air cooled off more rapidly. Air near the ground gets heated by the ground. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Apr 14, 2023 at 14:55
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Extreme refraction. Next time you see it you may notice that the sun disappears from the bottom up (use the pinhole trick) as if it was slowly going behind the horizon. I've seen A video of this same thing.

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    $\begingroup$ Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Dec 5, 2023 at 19:59

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