In a nutshell, the Horizons Project is simply a personal mandate to observe every sunrise and sunset for one year, 2007.
Over the past year I often found myself in situations where I could observe sunset on a given evening and also observe sunrise on the following day. It became very common for me to observe these solar landmarks on consecutive days. I realized how meaningful this simple phenomenon had become when a day passed that I had not witnessed the rise or set of the sun.
Contemplating my feelings about these daily observations led me to this project. I am not a spiritual person--meaning that my naturalistic world view is free of supernatural and mystical elements. I feel I understand a great deal about my life environment and yet I discover new information every day and am reminded of how lacking my understanding really is. Much like committing to a life partner or conceiving offspring, I feel recognizing the elements of my environment demands embracing the positive and negative, and deserves the same promise to not take the elements for granted.
Every day during sunrise I take time to observe the eastern sky, and every day during sunset I devote some time to observing the western sky.
I know what you're thinking: it's more complicated than that. You're right--observing the sunrise or sunset is not always a simple matter. First of all, I'm not literally staring at the sun--that would obviously be foolish in light of the damage it could cause to my eyes. I think most people understand what it means to watch a sunrise or sunset--one is mostly watching the horizon and the contrast between light and absence of light.
Rather than picking an arbitrary time to make observations I have done my best to satisfy my desire for order and structure by making observations in between the forecast time of sunrise or sunset and the forecast end or beginning of civil twilight. This gives me a 20 to 30 minute window to work within which I think is very reasonable.
On most clear days the appropriate time to observe should be readily apparent, but cloudy or overcast days will be had and on those days I will verify the observation window and observe the appropriate horizon regardless of how cloudy it may be. I will make every attempt to observe outdoors (as opposed to viewing through a window).
To make things more interesting for my peers I have created the table below as a record of the project. The table is drawn with some simple code from a flat file database that I update every day.
I should note that the table and all its data and photos are just gravy. I observe dawn and dusk every day for my own enjoyment and enlightenment. I thought it would be neat to have a record of these activities for my own reference and so I could have a website to which I could easily refer inquiries (because people are bound to ask why I feel the need to go outside on a rainy evening to stare at the western horizon). I have no problems letting this website go stale if it turns out the data and photo logging are encumbering the fundamental purpose of the project.
One more thing--I imagine a lot of the notes and pictures will appear similar (especially when looking at clothing I'm wearing). Much like the sun I express a certain predictability offset by subtle seasonal changes. Enjoy.
- 16 January: Check here for a slideshow of all the photos in chronological order