Exact Sunrise/Sunset Times for Pilots and Photographers

Important data…and a special offer.

This is an old post with links to old files. You can find the latest version of this offer and currently available files here.

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

Time PaletteI 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Enter your Web site or blog in the Web site field if desired. You don’t have to do this, but why not?
  4. 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:

2009:

27 thoughts on “Exact Sunrise/Sunset Times for Pilots and Photographers

  1. Portland, ME – Eastern – DST(yes) – for iCal

    I, too, am a photographer, but I also bike and hike, and find this info useful for planning those activities as well.

    Thanks for doing this – it is greatly appreciated.

  2. Mike: I think it could be helpful for any outdoor activity where it’s important to get somewhere before or after dark. (The files are done; just waiting for you to confirm your e-mail.)

  3. Hello. I like the idea of sunset and sunrise times in iCal. Thank you for offering to do this.

    1. Vancouver, WA, USA

    2. Portland, OR, USA (There are airports in Vancouver also)

    3. Pacific Standard Time (Winter), Pacific Daylight Time (Summer)–I Have Two Time Zones Because Of Daylight Saving Time (DST)

    4. My City Does Observe DST

    5. I philosophically observe patterns in nature. Having easy access to sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset times in iCal will help me observe these natural patterns better.

    6. I want to use the sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset time file with iCal.

    7. I get my information regarding the sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset from various sources but having this information easily accessible in iCal and well ahead of time would be great for me. In fact I did a web search for iCal sunset calendars and I found this web page. I am grateful that you are doing this.

    Mark

  4. New York, NY

    Eastern Time Zone w/ daylight savings

    I could really use this information to have an accurate and accessible chart to help me take photo, as I appreciate amateur photography.

    I use iCal on my mac, but could also use Google calender, if that is easier for you.

    I cant tell you how much I appreciate this service and am happy to credit you any way possible. Thank you.

  5. Just posted the ones for Vancouver, WA and New York, NY. A note on all the ones outside of AZ: I’m not sure if the daylight savings time thing will work properly; please let me know if it doesn’t and I’ll try to troubleshoot. I did enter your time zones, so I think it SHOULD adjust the time properly. We don’t have daylight savings time here in AZ, so I don’t have to deal with those issues here.

  6. Hey, thanks for the info. I’m a photographer in Austin, TX and I am not very software/html savvy, but I’m wanting to simply add a Sunrise/Sunset time to every day (or at least Sat/Sun) in my 2009 public google calendar (http://www.mwwphoto.com/gallery/5906924_XSqBG).

    Surely it can’t be that difficult…any ideas??

    I’d be more than willing to toss some coinage in the Paypal kitty….

    Thanks,

    -Martin

  7. I know I’m a day late and a dollar short but I would be willing to either add to the coffee fund or go to the Amazon Wish list for recompense if you would be willing to do one more file!

    Chicago, IL O’Hare airport CST and yes we observe DST

    Why do I want this info? Because I am a weather geek that lives in a very cold dark climate who gets relly happy once the vernal equinox turns the time corner and we start gaining a minute here and a minute there. Especially this time of year when the winter seems like it will never end.

    And I would be using Ical on my mac.

    Thanks! And if the time has expired on this offer, I understand. I just this minute found the blog posting in my google search.

  8. Albertville, AL but the closest would be Birmingham, AL or Huntsville, AL CST DST(yes) (I would rather have Birmingham if you cant get Albertville, AL OH, and I use iCal.

    I am an avid production manager and my mother like to fish…lol… two different things I know!

  9. Maria, It seems that I may have missed my opportunity. If you can still get to it, thanks. If not I understand. I do however want to thank you for your Lynda.com movies on blogs. I love that e-learning site and have found your guide quite helpful. Thanks for that!

  10. I was overjoyed to find you iCal Sunrise & Sunset .ics file for somewhere close to my location in Everett, WA (http://maps.google.com/maps/ms
    ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=112810699350554635429.000454b24420b947e9f47&ll=47.989749,-122.199168&spn=0,359.975109&t=p&z=15&layer=c&cbll=47.989739,-122.199181&panoid=qiYJa03m_vwzYQpzjzzflw&cbp=12,7.2,,0,5) which is pretty close to 47.99, -122.2. So I can get an approximate time into my iCal. As a photographer (not just dogs) I really depend on it from time to time. Thank you for your efforts on our behalf€¦ Let me know how you are coming on the universal version for next year. And thanks again… Joe

    • Joseph: Not sure what you mean about “universal version.” It’s a long and tedious task to create the sunrise/sunset calendars. If I could figure out a way to fully automate the process, I certainly would. And I don’t understand how a “universal version” is possible; sunrise/sunset times change based on location and there’s an almost infinite number of locations on our planet.

      Glad you found a calendar that’s helpful to you, though.

  11. Sorry for the confusion about the term “universal”. I guess I was referring to your wish to figure out a way to plug in a set of coordinates and have your Mac crank out an .ics file that fit. It would be nice to be able to do. And once you got it working, you could just sell the script, and those who had FileMaker (Bento maybe) could pay you a fee for it’s use and crank out their own, saving you time and hassle. After this past year <I’ll bet you get many requests for .ics files for 2010.

    So, if there is any way I could help you with some scripting, FileMaker work, or whatever, let me know. I’d be willing to put some time in seeing what can be developed. Getting the raw data for a coordinate takes only a few seconds at the Naval Observatory. It’s the parsing of that file into a database, and getting the database to spit out an .ics file that is the problem. A local here in the NorthWest has developed something that will spit out an .ics file from a set of coords, but it comes out wrong timewise. So I can see the .ics format is text, and pretty simple. Let me know what if there is anything you’d like to do on my 24″ iMac, Macbook, or any of the other various Macs sitting around the house. Got rid of the Apple ][s and the gs.

    By the way, my father’s family was situated in Glendale, N. 84th if I recall, and I spent some time there in my youth (67 and retired now) and my first ex-wife Susan lives out in Wadell nowadays. Small world.

    Joe

    425-512-0362

  12. Corrected version, Maria :

    Sorry for the confusion about the term €œuniversal€. I guess I was referring to your wish to figure out a way to plug in a set of coordinates and have your Mac crank out an .ics file that fit. It would be nice to be able to do. And once you got it working, you could just sell the script, and those who had FileMaker (Bento maybe) could pay you a fee for it’s use and crank out their own, saving you time and hassle. After this past year, I’ll bet you get many requests for .ics files for 2010.

    So, if there is any way I could help you with some scripting, FileMaker work, or whatever, let me know. I’d be willing to put some time in seeing what can be developed. Getting the raw data for a coordinate takes only a few seconds at the Naval Observatory. It’s the parsing of that file into a database, and getting the database to spit out an .ics file that is the problem. A local here in the NorthWest has developed something that will spit out an .ics file from a set of coords, but it comes out wrong timewise. So I can see the .ics format is text, and pretty simple. Let me know what if anything there is you’d like me to do on my 24€³ iMac, Macbook, or any of the other various Macs sitting around the house. Got rid of the Apple ][s and the gs.

    By the way, my father’s family had a dairy on 80 acres in Glendale, N. 84th if I recall, and I spent some time there in my youth (67 and retired now). It a subdivision today.

    My first ex-wife Susan lives out in Wadell nowadays. Small world.

    Joe

    425-512-0362

    • Joseph: Thanks for all your comments. But you really do need to check over what you enter BEFORE submitting them. Either that or be prepared for duplicate comments.

      There’s nothing you can do to help. The long and tedious part is creating the data files, which is done with a software application called Time Palette.

  13. Hi there, I’m not sure if you are sill doing this, or maybe preparing for next year’s batch, but I have so far failed to find anyone else who can do this. I am recovering from a stroke and part of my rehab, in fact the part that has been most useful, is early morning walks. I would love to be able to combine these walks with sunrise. If there is any chance of this at all I would be most grateful. If you could let me know and I would be more than happy to add to your fund for wake up juice. My thanks either way, you have done people a great service and hopefully I can be another.

    Portsmouth, UK (although Southampton is the nearest airport city) – GMT

  14. maria, thank you for this. actor here in new york city. like to have it in my iCal for exercise and roof gardening in between acting gigs…. will donate to coffee fund when i have funds.

  15. A total lack of any mention of 2010 so leads me to believe that you have given up on this project.

    Is there one of the other google searched sites that can do the job with reasonable accuracy that you could recommend?

    • Joseph: The software solution I came up with is completely incompatible with the current version of iCal, so I didn’t bother generating the tables for 2010. Instead, I used a Mac application called Sunrise Sunset, which generates the iCal info for the GPS coordinates you enter. I can’t remember where I got it from, but I do recall that it’s free. If you’re a Mac user, I recommend it. If you’re not, well, I can’t help you. Sorry!

  16. Well I’m more of a geek, I just wrote a php script that will generate a whole year of ical sunrise and sunset events for any lat/lon and time zone.

    http://pdxvr.com/other/ical_sun.php

    I did no verification or sanitizing routines and put it up there raw and barely tested, I’m relying on you all to test it.

    After I post this, I’ll change it so you can specify a date range instead of just a full year.

    • Michael: Thanks for this. I’m sure someone here will give this a try.

      I just want to remind everyone of two things:
      1) There ARE other solutions on the Web, including Web sites that can do all the sunrise/sunset calculations for you.
      2) I cannot be held responsible for any problems resulting from using software linked to in this blog or its comments.

What do you think?