I often check out the SpaceWeather website to see what the Sun looks like — that is, if there are any large sunspots that could be photographed at sunset. On July 6th, there were several large sunspot groups so I set out to try and catch them.
NEVER look at the Sun, even when it’s setting, through telephoto lens or a telescope. Use Live View on your camera to frame the shot. This can’t be stressed enough.
Even though the skies overhead were completely clear, there were some distant clouds in the direction of the sunset. How distant? Satellite image reveals they were over southern Austria.
These clouds prevented the sunspots from showing up (they may be glimpsed in the first photo above), but they certainly made the sunset look dramatic.
After the Sun had set, one of those distant clouds — a dissipating anvil of a small cumulonimbus — cast a nice shadow.
Nice colorful post-sunset sky. Note that this was taken with a 500 mm lens; all of those clouds were very small and very low in the sky.
On the other side of the sky there was the Earth’s shadow, the Belt of Venus, and a faint cloud shadow, seen departing towards the antisolar point. When there are more shadows, anticrepuscular rays may be seen.
A distant airplane shedding its contrail, at that altitude still illuminated by the Sun.
The Moon was lovely, too.
Then the Sun lit up a prominent distant contrail.
I recorded its movement and gradual darkening of the sky on video. Originally 7 minutes and 30 seconds in length, the video has been sped up 8x.
Then the dark shadows of very distant clouds appeared over the horizon. But how distant? Again, satellite imagery suggests that these were cast by cloud tops of thunderstorms over northern Switzerland, about 600 kilometers away. Is this possible? I believe it is.
Pink contrails far away.
A thin band of smoke also drifted over the town on a southerly breeze.
Nice view of a fading daylight gradient to end with. I was waiting to see if noctilucent clouds would make an appearance — they did not.