Dan Rattiner's Stories

Fixing Sunset: The Sun Should Set Exactly in the Middle of the High Season

On several occasions, I have appeared at meetings of the Hamptons Town Council to bring to their attention the fact that the sunsets in the Hamptons are out of whack with the summer season. To date, nothing has been done. And so I ordered a study done here at Dan’s Papers, at great expense, by a firm that looks into these things.

Now, four months later, probably too late to do anything about it for this summer, I have received their 4,871 page report. What follows is a summary of the findings of this report.

Hamptons sunset beach
Hamptons sunset beach, Photo: Oliver Peterson

FIXING SUNSET

The indisputable fact is that the summer season in the Hamptons is bounded by Memorial Day and Labor Day. This is a 16-week period. And yet, the time of sunset moves further into the evening during the first two weeks of the season, reaches the summer solstice on June 21, then reverses course to move earlier and earlier, so that by Labor Day sunset occurs at the dinner hour, resulting in few people actually getting a chance to see it.

The goal is to have the summer solstice on July 28. If that could be made to happen, the setting of the sun would be high drama in the first half of summer as it goes later and later into the evening, finally setting at the regular summer solstice time of 8:31 p.m. Then, with summer half over, the retreat of the time of sunset would wind down summer until on Labor Day when it would be at an earlier time, but still the same time it occurred at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. That would be 7:23 p.m. And all will be right with the world.

There are three ways to solve this problem.

1. Move the summer season. This is the easiest solution. If the summer solstice occurs on June 21, then start high season—one would no longer call it the summer season—eight weeks prior to June 21 and end it eight weeks after June 21. That would give us a new “high” season from April 21 to August 21. Since the season traditionally begins with the ending of the school year and ends with the beginning of the next school year, this solution will require New York City Department of Education to change their school year to accommodate the changes needed in the Hamptons.

2. Move the planet. This would be the most expensive solution. But a nation that can go to the moon or build a wall between it and Mexico can surely afford this. And other nations might help. The job would involve firing a battery of rockets bolted onto one side of the planet the day before the solstice occurs, and then keeping these rockets firing continuously to steady it at the continuous time of 8:32 until August 12, when most of the summer is gone. With the rockets turned off, the planet, slingshot fashion, will rapidly lurch forward, and by Labor Day be back to where we were at Memorial Day.

3. Adjust the marketing. Like option 1, this will not involve tinkering with the planet. So this is a plus. Marketing will now be focused not on the time that the sun sets, but on the 45 minutes after the sunset, a time currently referred to as dusk. With the sun setting at the dinner hour of 7:32 p.m. on April 21 and on Labor Day, the marketing people can argue that the main activity of sunset, kicked off by “the green flash” and featuring the subtle changing of the horizon colors and clinking wine glasses when dusk finally turns to darkness, is the wonder to be marveled at, not just that dumb time before the sun reaches the horizon. And all of this, of course, takes place AFTER dinner, not during dinner. So everything is okay.

4. Celebrate the eccentricity of the off-balance sunset as a marker of the wonder of life on earth. Just leave it be. And thank God we have it at all.

We would like to thank the Long Island Gyroscope Laboratory for taking the time to do this study for us. A check is being ordered up here at Dan’s Papers to be written to them to pay for their services.

We leave the town board to ponder which of the four plans would suit them best. Write them. Tell them your favorites.

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