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Today is May 9, 2021

Mississippi Seen

Sunrises & sunsets - More than just rinse and repeat

By Walt Grayson

Sunrises & sunsets - More than just rinse and repeat

February is when we began to notice the days are getting longer. Odd that the shortest month of the year is when we see that we are starting to climb out of winter. Not that we don’t have plenty of cold weather still ahead of us. And the sunset has perceptibly moved farther northward than it was in December.

Driving into Jackson on Lakeland Drive, there is a hilltop east of the airport where you get a pretty good view of the city. In the winter, it seems like the sun sets all the way on the left side of my car’s windshield. But in the middle of summer, it has moved all the way to the right side. That seems like a wild shift to me. I know the earth is tilted on its axis 23 and a half degrees off-center, which gives us our seasons and allows the setting sun to pick out a slightly different spot every afternoon. But I can’t comprehend how that small of a tilt can move the sunset that far from left to right, at its extremes. But I’m satisfied that someone, somewhere knows why, so I don’t have to worry about it.

I’ve been on my way home many times covering a story somewhere in the state and pulled over to get a shot of the sunset. We have some astounding sunsets in Mississippi. I put together a couple of minutes of sunset shots and set them to music and ran them as my television feature story one day. After the newscast, the producer saw me in the hall and commented on my “sunrises.” Then she thought for about a half a second and realized who she was talking to and said, “Wait. I guess those would have been sunsets if you took them, wouldn’t it?”

Not that I haven’t seen sunrises, too. But in practical terms, I’m usually on the road in the late afternoons, not mornings. I’m guessing she meant it as a reflection of my energy level.

If you want to see beautiful sunsets in Mississippi, you don’t have to go any farther than your yard. After a summer thunderstorm, the sun can turn creation purple, green or bright orange, depending on how light hits the thunderhead. During winter, the high wispy cirrus clouds get bent in all sorts of directions by jet stream winds. The dropping sun paints them pink to purple as it sets.

The coast has great sunsets. Any bluff along the Mississippi River provides a ringside seat to a sunset. So does the levee, to a degree. The high hill in Jeff Busby Park on the Natchez Trace has a relatively unobstructed view of the west. East too, if you ever want to catch a sunrise there.

Sunrises and sunsets. As much as they are alike, no two are exactly the same. They are just like us — unique in their own special way.


Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at

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