Cloud Shadow of Mt. Rainier

Photo: Nick Lippert

Take a look at this: a phenomenal sunrise of Mt. Rainier in Washington state, where the volcano actually casts a sky shadow on the clouds!

From Seattle's Komo News:

Mt. Rainier has quite a few tricks up its sleeve for adding additional beauty to the Pacific Northwest, from the majestic snow-capped peaks, to the mysterious lenticular cloud displays.

But another trick it pulls off during the fall and winter is to cast a big shadow on a brilliant sunrise.

It only happens when the sun rises farther to the south as we head toward the winter solstice and has to be in the exact position to where Rainier blocks the first rays of morning light.

Link - via Bad Astronomy

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It actually only happens on Yule or the Winter Equinox. There are gathering places used by the Indian where on a clear day you can also watch the sun walk up the mountain.
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I don't understand why it would only occur at a certain time of year. If the sun were rising in a different part of the horizon, wouldn't the shadow just be cast in a different direction?
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