September 9, 2020

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the sunrise run, which I will celebrate by making the final categorization of the 10 types of sunrises...

...  as seen from my vantage point on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. Your sunrises may be different, and I am making the assumption that in the course of viewing nearly every sunrise for one year that I have seen all the various types. I've identified some of these before. Today, is the first time I'm nailing down all 10:

1. Solid, undifferentiated clouds. Though the list is not 1-10 worst-to-best, Type #1 is the least interesting, and it happens quite a bit. Total opacity.


2. Complete cloud cover but you can see shapes and texture in the clouds:


3. No clouds at all. Nothing but sun and clear sky:


4. Almost completely clear, but there are a few spots of clouds — clouds that don't really affect the light much at all:


5. This was the first sunrise type I identified. It's what made me start the list. There is a distinctive Z-shape where the sun is. It's hard to discern with the naked eye, but it shows up in the photographs:

March 8, 2020 sunrise

6. This would be a Type #2 but there's a gap in the thick clouds, so you get to see some of the sun. The color effects can be very interesting, and it can look like a nuclear bomb is exploding out there:


7. I call it the "Broiler." Intensely hot color shoots up onto the clouds 10 or 15 minutes before sunrise. It fades, and there can be a complete loss of the red/pink by the actual sunrise time. I need to use a secondary vantage point to catch the good part when I exclaim — as I'm driving out to my starting point — It's a Broiler!:


8. This is the sunrise I call "Inky." The clouds come out really dark in the photograph, so the contrast is extreme and dramatic. This isn't my favorite, because it lacks the delicacy of dawn and it seems needlessly aggressive. But I do enjoy when Inky pays a visit. The full effect only comes through in the photographs. He's a lot more normal in person, but Inky is photogenic. 2 examples:



9. Fog! Yes, I've got to honor the fog. It's not the same as the all-over cloud cover of Types ##1 and 2. There's an enveloping intimacy that's distinct from everything else:


10. This is the most beautiful sunrise to me: The sky is filled with wispy clouds that filter the sunlight into lots of delicate colors and shapes. I have always kept the December 20th sunrise in mind as the ideal, the sunrise that most truly touched my heart:

December 20, 2019 sunrise — 1

But here are some other nice 10s:





October 18, 2019 sunrise


robother said...

I've seen Inky sunsets, too,mostly down in in Crestone CO. They always remind me of the times my brother and I, watching 50s cowboy movies, would turn to each other and say "fakey, painted backdrops!" But they're real!

stevew said...

Excellent. If I can only have one favorite it is "inky". I like the contrast and the dramatic effect. The dark clouds highlight the brighter colors.

DKWalser said...

Very nice series. I'm glad you made the effort.

On the thread from a couple of days ago, I mentioned my favorite type of sunrise and won't repeat that here. At the other end of the day, my favorite sunset was viewed at Point Reyes, just North of San Francisco. We'd hiked in to camp on the beach. When we reached the top of the cliffs above the beach, the sun was just setting. A light fog covered the ocean to the far horizon. It had been drizzling since we started hiking in and the sun was sandwiched between the clouds and the fog. Everything was colored in shades of gold, orange, rose, and pink. It was spectacular.

Leon said...

I remember around the time you got you cataracts out you were speculating about photography. It seems it's back and you're enjoying life more

Temujin said...

Bravo! Nice work. So many beautiful mornings. They are all a gift.

daskol said...

No 10 looks like mother of pearl.

Quaestor said...

Althouse Sunrise Number 5:

That appears to be a contrail mixed with lenticular or altostratus clouds, the clouds forming the horizontal strokes of the Z and the contrail forming the diagonal stroke. If that is a contrail, air routes and airline schedules being what they are, it would not be unusual to discover that Z-shaped formation more than once when observing from the same general location. Atmospherics that produce altostratus clouds are particularly conducive to contrail formation.

traditionalguy said...

The blog of the rising sun. It’s been the beauty in the life of many a poor boy. And Lord, I am a one.

rcocean said...

Not to sure why fog is better than overcast or a cheery blue sky, but I guess it gets a rise out of you. 8721 and 4731 were my two top 10s.

rcocean said...

April 28th and August 1st, my two favorites. thought they would've been closer together in time.

Joe Smith said...

I'm more of a broiler man, but I see the appeal of #10. It looks like a Turner.

Bryant said...

Really enjoyed the various types. There seems to be a little inky in a couple of your #10 sunrises.

If you edit it down the #10s then you could have a nice calendar you could sell on the blog via Amazon. :)

cacimbo said...

Thanks for sharing, you have a real talent for photography.

Will said...

From one who has run most of his adult life, it ain't never easy, I'm proud of you, Girl.

Ann Althouse said...


The types are not in order of goodness, though 1 is the worst and I do like 10 the best.

Ann Althouse said...

They’re more in order from simple to complicated, but only in that I established the first four quickly after putting the Z in the middle at 5.

I reserved 10 for my favorite, threw in inky, then today I filled in the final 3.

robother said...

Am I right in assuming because you were jogging, you took all these with an iPhone? If so, could you tell us which generation iPhone (I'm thinking of an upgrade from my 5)?

Kathryn51 said...

Thank you Althouse. Enjoyed every post - "broilers" are my favorite. Here on the West Coast, "broiler" sunsets are mesmerizing because they last and last for over an hour.

I would buy the calendar - especially if it was in a digital format for screen background. I guess you would need to add a couple of images.

One question I always had in the back of my mind - would you have done an entire year if Covid didn't descend upon us all? Or, would you have done a sunset every day, regardless of where you might be wandering?

Lem said...

When asked about the lyrics, (I’ll Follow the Sun) McCartney commented: "I wrote that in my front parlour in Forthlin Road. I was about 16. 'I'll Follow the Sun' was one of those very early ones. I seem to remember writing it just after I'd had the flu and I had that cigarette. I remember standing in the parlour, with my guitar, looking out through the lace curtains of the window, and writing that one." -Wikipasta

David Begley said...

Beautiful work, Ann. Great effort over 365 straight days. The Cal Ripken of sunrises.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

A year ago a blogger came out to wonder
Caught the rising suns inside a lens
Undaunted when the sky was full of thunder
And ranked them in her preference 1's through 10's

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted rays go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look, behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

(apologies Joni Mitchell, congrats to Ann A)

wildswan said...

Just amazing. A lot for me to start to notice when I look at sunrises. A calendar would be great.

Stu Grimshaw said...

Lots of “red sky in morning, sailors take warning” types of sunrises. Did you keep notes on how the weather for each day turned out? Categorizing sunrises is great and all, but determining the truth behind that old sailors rhyme would’ve been a great benefit to mankind. Missed opportunity.

Oh, and I’m a #9 fan - love a foggy morning.

Yancey Ward said...

I have a question- when you started this last September, was the plan to do all of them at Lake Mendota? I asked because in September of 2019, COVID wasn't a thing, and you and Meade make road trips once or twice a year.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

It's not hard to make calendars on Cafe Press.

Actually making money off of them on the other hand..

Original Mike said...

Broiler man, myself. Though I love #3 after a night of observing.

Original Mike said...

"Former Vice President Biden said today that more than 6,000 members of the US military have died due to the coronavirus. The actual number is seven according to the @DeptofDefense"

cf said...

I have enjoyed all the variation, but I am with Kathryn51, Broilers are my favorite also. Congratulations on a worthy effort.

stephen cooper said...

Thanks for all those sunrise pictures.

Wisconsin is a place with, from time to time, unmistakably transcendental beauty, and you captured a lot of that.

That being said, I liked the rats, too, and I kind of miss them.

They were getting to be really good - individuals with their own little rat souls , and God bless them for that - and just when I was getting attached to seeing the latest picture of a rat, you stopped drawing them and publishing the drawings. What's up with that****SAD!

Mr. Forward said...

The worst sunrise. Tequila.

Guildofcannonballs said...

This is a link saying 1000 + 1000 words in context.

Surely in America context matters like it never has before.

Arnold (because I don't care to spell his last name, like his kids born here never learned to speak like an American from wherever*) wearing a USA shirt ought be problematic where he chose to cast his political sails, this time.

*Truth be told, people accused the great Bill Buckley, aka William Frank Buckley Junior, of appropriating an accent (too).

Milwaukie guy said...

Ooh, ooh, slideshow, please. I don't know if you downsample your jpegs to screen res for faster loading, but I think that 300+ 72 ppi's might load slowly or maybe not be supported by wordpress or whatever this is. Or put the archive on flickr, I don't know.

I like your rating system for sunrises. And I love all your pictures. But please, Ms. Althouse, please put them in chronological order so we can see a year's change over Lake Mendota in Mad City.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Let's say DeWine (CIA) says OHIO goes Biden, even when it don't?

What are you gonna do about it, dispute Chuck Schumer saying the intelligence community has 6 different ways to get you?

What planet will be Harry's God Chuck, for the tax lies?

Milwaukie guy said...

Just thinking about sunrise over Mad City, which some people call Mad Town, got me thinking about local patois.

I like to pronounce the cheesehead state as Winsconsin ["Illinois' Biggest State Park"]. I like to pronounce my FIB [Fucking Illinois Bastards] home state as Illinoiz, as in Boyz from Illinoiz.

That reminded me of the current election. Trump is Illinoiz and calls Biden a Cheesehead and Biden is Winsconsin and calls Trump a Fucking Illinois Bastard. There is no proportionality here.

Howard said...

Each is the best in its own time.

Milwaukie guy said...

Still reading the falsification thread, it's almost 3 a.m. That's one of the most interesting threads I've read on Althouse, a national treasure.

Since it's so late I wanted to add this, I'm so old I remember when plate tectonics was new and numerous "esteemed scientists" said it was bullshit and crazy. When anyone says "the science is settled," I want to kick them in the nuts, or maybe just do the knucklehead tap upside the head.

Great discussion and I'm going to finish it and go to bed. Nighty-night.

Clark said...

I love this project. Love the photos too, but above all the project. Two friends of mine did a book called Gardens of Obsession. I love the obsession of this project — using "obsession" as a word of high praise.

Kai Akker said...

There's quite a difference between your two examples of #8, Inky. Had you put those two photos up by themselves, very few would have considered them examples of the same phenomenon, I suspect. I see how they fit the definition; just interesting how different two examples can look.

We're having a type 1 sunrise this morning in southeastern Pennsylvania. I find myself drawn to the photos illustrating types 1 and 2, but the one I most want to see if I am out there at sunrise is #3, no clouds, nicest of all days unfolding.

I would think on the lake you must have experienced a goodly number of 9s (if memory serves), the foggy ones. Yet I don't actually recall seeing any in your daily sunrise or cafe posts.

Nancy said...

Yes!!! Calendar!!!

stevew said...

"Cold-hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colours from our sight
Red is gray and yellow, white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion

Pinprick holes in a colourless sky
Let insipid flickers of light pass by
The mighty light of ten thousand suns
Challenges infinity and is soon gone
Night time, to some a brief interlude
To others the fear of solitude

Brave Helios, wake up your steeds
Bring the warmth the countryside needs"

"The Day Begins" by The Moody Blues

Leslie Graves said...

Can't thank you enough.

Rick.T. said...

“....I am making the assumption that in the course of viewing nearly every sunrise for one year that I have seen all the various types.”

We look forward to an ongoing search for falsifiability.

mezzrow said...

Congratulations on the completion of a year's worth of sunrises. Consistency is underrated.

Your classification system is a nice touch, and I've been sharing it with Mrs. Mezz. Still trying to get her out there with me, so I've been using your system to describe what I see when I come in, but I'm too often too lazy to get out there at the moment it breaks the horizon. "It was a three this morning..." "what are you talking about now?"

We are both blessed with the ability to access a body of water over which to observe the horizon. It's what make sunrises work, for me. My favorites are when the water is glassy.

michaele said...

I've enjoyed every personally taken photo you've ever shared...ranging from the "action shots" in the Madison anti Walker riots , flowers, etc. and this impressive commitment to the daily sunrise.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ooh, ooh, slideshow, please. I don't know if you downsample your jpegs to screen res for faster loading, but I think that 300+ 72 ppi's might load slowly or maybe not be supported by wordpress or whatever this is. Or put the archive on flickr, I don't know."

The archive is on Flickr. Just click on any photograph and you can go forward and backward and see photos in chronological order. I could make a set over there. I did that once, months ago. Could do it again.

CStanley said...

Beautiful, very well done!

The clouds in the #10s for me call to mind the opaque stained glass that my dad used in a coffee table that he made.

I’m surprised there’s not a category for the radiant sunlight as in the 4th #10. That’s my favorite type of sky, when the sunlight pours out of a space between clouds and separate rays are visible. I guess it’s more common when the sun is a bit higher in the sky though.

Tank said...

Quite a project.


rhhardin said...

Who cares about sunrises. Dog pictures is where it's at.

mikee said...

Joseph Mallord William Turner approves, and suggests: more boats.

Left Bank of the Charles said...


MayBee said...

You did it!

Original Mike said...

It's a #9 this morning on our lake in northern Wisconsin.

robother said...

Nevermind, I see on Flickr the exact iPhone and settings you're using, Duh. My joe Biden moment.

MadisonMan said...

Very nice. I'd love to see an animation of all of them. That would make a great movie.

Ken B said...

I presume this is a cafe?
Nothing says “epater les bourgeois” like kiddy porn. On RottenTomatoes the critics give Cuties 90% but the audience gives 5%. And I just explained why the difference is so stark.