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Marvel at the sight

The sun was down, and all the west was paved with sullen fire.{p}

We get spectacular sunsets, and we don’t know why

What is a Sunset?

In case you don’t know, a sunset is defined on the Wikipedia as The disappearance of the Sun below the horizon of the Earth (or any other astronomical object in the Solar System) due to its rotation.

Our Spectacular Sunsets

Where to watch

The sun sets to the west of the island{1}, so if you want to watch the sun ‘gracefully descending into the sea’ you need a clear, unobstructed view to the west. Anywhere along the north-western coast will do, but preferred spots are the seaside bars in Jamestown (for convenience) and Blue Hill, the western end of which has a broad panorama seascape.

You can find information about sunset times on our page Weather and climate.

Why do we get them?

In truth, we are not clear why we get such spectacular sunsets. In the UK, Kent and Essex get great sunsets because of all the pollution introduced into the air by the London area to the west, but as our Air-Quality is in the top 15% globally we don’t think that is the explanation here.

It is possible that the prevailing wind, blowing as it does from the southern trip of Africa, brings dust which causes the sunset, but if so the dust must be very fine and resiliently airborne, because there is no evidence of it being deposited on the island.

If you know, please contact us.

The Green Flash

Some say that when the sun sets over the sea, at the moment of its disappearance a ‘green flash’ is sometimes observable. Others, who say they have never seen it, claim this is a figment of the observer’s imagination. Since coming to St Helena early in 2005, the editor of this website has looked many times at the sun setting over the sea, and has never seen any green flash, even when others claim they saw it, so cannot personally comment on the phenomenon.

If there is a green flash, a number of explanations have been offered for its appearance, including:



We were asked Why isn’t there also a page about sunrises? The honest answer is that nobody seems to photograph them! The only one we have is shown (right).

To photograph the sunrise you have to be on the Eastern-facing side of the island and, apart from the residents of Longwood, few people are (you don’t see the sunrise from Sandy Bay because of the hills…) and maybe the people of Longwood are too busy in the morning getting ready for work and getting the kids off to school to stop and photograph the sunrise? Or maybe the sunrises just aren’t as spectacular as the sunsets? If you know please contact us


{a} Danielle K Caswell{b} The Mule Yard{c} Sara Thomas{d} Amphibians Bar{e} St Helena Travel (group){f} Tourist Information Office{g} Government of St Helena{h} Into The Blue{2}{i} Matt Joshua{j} Peter Mott{k} St Helena National Trust{l} Bruce Peters{m} Mark Stevenson{n} Ed Thorpe{o} Nicole Hercules on Facebook™{p} Alexander Smith


{1} Sorry if you felt that was obvious, but just in case…{2} @@RepDis@@


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