The forecast for June 20 is clear, but even if it’s cloudy, it’s not likely to deter a group of enthusiasts from heading up to Munson Mountain in Penticton to watch the first sunset of the summer.
“Summer begins at 4:09 p.m. on the Wednesday, that’s the official start of summer,” said Chris Purton of the Royal Astronomical Society, Okanagan branch. He, along with others from the group and public, will be heading to the top of Munson to watch the summer solstice sunset from Pen Henge, the set of standing stones they have installed to mark major astronomical events of the year.
“The sun has its annual track going north and south and that is the exact moment when it is at its most northerly and after that it is going to be going south again,” he added. “Which is kind of a chilling thought. You feel like you have hardly got into summer and here it is already preparing to go back again.”
But even though the stones rely on shadows, Purton said clouds won’t stop them from enjoying the evening.
“We just hang around, pretend, mark the occasion,” said Purton. “If it is clear, it makes a huge difference. A couple of people are going to be up there projecting the sun so you can actually see the sun on a screen and watch it set.”
Purton is hoping for a repeat of the clear evening they had for the last summer solstice.
“It was a beautiful evening. That was the first clear night we had up there for the start of the season,” said Purton. “There was a nice group of people up there, it was a very mellow affair and when the sun set, they all broke out into applause.”
“I was astonished, I think it was the first time I ever heard a sunset being applauded.”
This year, sunset is at 8:58 p.m., and Purton said they plan to gather on Munson Mountain about 8:30 p.m. The public is welcome, but he cautions not to leave it to the last minute as it is a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the peak.