No. 49 watch the sunset

Visitors in the garden at sunset at Cragside, Northumberland

It might be the end of the day but there’s still plenty to see in nature. Before you go to bed, find a comfortable spot to watch the sky turn orange and red as the sun disappears beyond the horizon.

Take your seat for nature’s show

Watching the sunset is one of our '50 things to do before you're 11¾'. To see it you’ll need to find somewhere with a view to the west – that’s the direction in which the sun goes down every day. A good spot could be a garden, a park, a beach or even a bedroom window.

Check what time the sun is due to set where you live. You should try to get into position before this time so that you can see the whole event.

During sunset, the sky turns shades of orange, red and pink. The light gives the landscape a warm glow and can appear even more beautiful when it’s reflected by clouds or in water. If you live near a pond, a river or a beach, try watching the sunset there.

Horses on the North Devon coast at sunset
Horses on the North Devon coast at sunset
Horses on the North Devon coast at sunset

What happens at sunset?

During sunset, it may look like the sun is moving across the sky, but it’s actually us on Earth who are moving. The earth rotates as it travels around the sun which means there is always one side facing the sun and one facing away from it. So there is always a sunset happening somewhere in the world.

What do you think sunset looks like at sea, in the desert or in the rainforest?

Light is made up of lots of colours. When we look at the sun in the evening, we often see red and orange. This is because the blue light that we see in the day has been scattered, leaving only the red light. Look at the colours of the sun, the sky and the clouds – how would you describe them?

Look and listen for wildlife

What do you notice about the wildlife at this time of day? Which ones are going to sleep and which ones are just waking up?

If you’re lucky, you might see a bat fly past. These night-time creatures weigh less than a £1 coin and are only as big as your thumb. 

You’ll find bats in many parts of the world, including in the tropics where they pollinate cocoa and banana plants. So the next time you’re eating a bar of chocolate, you know who to thank.