Important data…and a special offer.
I’m a geek and know it. Each year, for the past few years, I’ve gone through a convoluted exercise on my Mac to extract, process, and import the exact sunrise and sunset times for Wickenburg, AZ (where I live) into iCal as individual daily events. That data is then synched across all of my Macs (via MobileMe) and on my Treo (via the Missing Sync). As a result, if you ask me what time the sun rises or sets in Wickenburg any day in the current year, I can tell you — usually within about a minute — no matter where I am.
Why I Bother
Why do I have this information? Well there are two reasons.
For one, I’m a pilot and I often need to plan for flights in the future. For example, suppose a client wants me to take him from Wickenburg to Sedona for a day trip on a specific date in March. While I’m allowed to fly at night, there are three mountain ranges between Wickenburg and Sedona that get very dark at night. My personal rule, established for safety, is to leave Sedona no later than 30 minutes before sunset. That gives us plenty of time to cross all three mountain ranges before it gets dark. So, with a glance at iCal or my Treo, I can find out exactly what time sunset is on the day in question and tell him when we have to leave Sedona.
As a pilot who often flies photographers around places like Lake Powell, this becomes really handy. The best light for photography is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This isn’t a theory at Lake Powell — it’s a fact. Knowing what time of day sunrise and sunset happen helps me to plan flights in that area.
Of course, the sunrise/sunset times at Page, AZ aren’t the same as in Wickenburg, but they’re close enough to get approximate timing for preliminary flight planning; I usually check the exact times before finalizing.
I’m also a photographer myself. So it’s important to me to know what times are best for photography.
How I Do It — Briefly
I get the exact time information from a program called Time Palette. I bought this try-before-you-buy program years ago. It had the information I needed, but no export capabilities. So I asked the software author to add them. He did. (Try asking Microsoft, Adobe, or Apple for a specific new feature you need in one of their programs and see how long it takes for you to get it.)
The hoops I jump through to export the monthly data and import it into iCal aren’t worth discussing here. It’s technical and boring. But each year, I improve my solution to make it a little quicker and easier for me.
Special, Limited-Time Offer
I realize that there are probably a lot of other pilots and photographers out there who could benefit from this information for their localities.
So I’m making this limited-time offer: I am willing to create iCal-compatible ICS calendar files for 2009 local sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset data for anyone who asks from now until January 2009 month-end. All I need from you is the name of your city/state/country and your exact time zone name. I figure that if enough people ask, it’ll motivate me to completely automate the entire process so it’s even easier for me next year.
You can use the comment form for this post to request your custom ICS files:
- Enter your name (first name only is okay) in the form’s name field. Don’t put the name of your company or blog or anything else.
- Enter your real e-mail address in the e-mail field. This keeps it private so only I can see it. And no, I don’t harvest this information for other use or sale. But I will use it to send your files, so if you put in fake information, you won’t get the files.
- Enter your Web site or blog in the Web site field if desired. You don’t have to do this, but why not?
- In the big comment field of the form, enter the following information (1) your city/state/country, (2) the closest large city/state/country with an airport (in case your city isn’t in the Time Palette database), (3) the exact name of your time zone, (4) whether or not your city observes daylight savings time, (5) a brief summary of why you want this information, (6) the name of the ICS-compatible software you plan to use the file with, and (7) any other comments you might want to share.
Please don’t leave out any of this information. If you leave out something really important — like the location or time zone — I either won’t be able to generate the information for you or it will be wrong.
One request per person, please. Full calendar years only — no special date requests.
I will create and send out these files as I find time. I’ll probably do them in batches. Don’t nag me. Don’t complain when you don’t get yours right away. I occasionally do work for a living.
I admit that I’m more likely to be motivated to create and send out a batch of files with a donation to my coffee fund. (Hint, Hint)
Don’t use the Contact form for this blog or my e-mail address, if you happen to have it, to make a request or ask questions about how I do this. I will delete your message and will probably ignore any other request you make through proper channels. My long-standing rule has not fallen: I do not provide support via e-mail.
And if you want this information for your locality, ask for it now. I’ll stop considering requests on January 31, 2009.
Disclaimer: I do not guarantee the accuracy of this information. It should not be relied upon without independent verification for any mission-critical operations. I will not take any responsibility for any use of this information. Use it at your own risk.
Download a Previously Created File
As I create these files, I’ll put them here for download by others who live in the same city. (I won’t create files for people who don’t have the courtesy to provide an accurate e-mail address, so don’t even try it; I’ll check first.)
The following files are already available for download; help yourself if you live in one of these cities: