The very basics of The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Many have asked in the past what app I use to pinpoint the exact location a sun will rise or set during any given day. I’ve mentioned this before in several of my other posts, but today, I will go through the very basics of the app, showing you how I locate my desired area for a sunrise or sunset.

For starters, you’ll need The Photographer’s Ephemeris to understand any of this, so you can go ahead and buy it from the app store, here. It’s not cheap, but it’s a wealth of information if you know how to use it. Mind you I’m no expert in this app myself, which is why I will show you the mere basics of it all.

The Photographer's Ephemeris

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Open the app and you’ll  be confronted with the map screen, as seen below. I’m using Google maps as a map reference, but if you’re so inclined, the app gives you other sources of maps. Just click on the satellite icon on the mid right of this screen and choose your desired map source.

Map screen when first launched.

Map screen when first launched.

If you have a desired location in mind, use the Locations icon on the bottom bar to type in the exact location you are interested in. For example, if I wanted to find out which way the sun will set when I’m standing on the Arch Bridge (Pont Neuf) in Paris, France, I would type in “Pont Neuf, Paris” to see the results, as seen below.

Enter your desired location.

Enter your desired location.

Select the appropriate result, and you’ll be shown three icons. The red pin indicates your primary pin, or where you will be standing. The grey pin acts as a secondary pin for reference in more advanced calculations such as elevations. The third icon allows you to save this location to your bookmark, for easy access in the future. For our example, click on the red pin.

Click on the location to reveal pin markers, and select the red pin.

Click on the location to reveal pin markers, and select the red pin.

When you select the red pin, the app will switch over to map view again, and immediately take you to that location and it will put a pin in that location. You will now see orange, yellow, light blue and dark blue lines coming from the location. These indicate your sunset, sunrise, moonrise, and moonset respectively.

Now, if the red pin is not the the very spot that you like, you can relocate the red pin. It’s important to put this red pin to the exact location you wish to be standing during sunset time.

You will be directed to your desired location, and a red pin marked at your location.

You will be directed to your desired location, and a red pin marked at your location.

To relocate the red pin, simply move the map until you see the target symbol over the exact location. For example, if I want to be standing on one of the viewing platforms of this bridge, I would just navigate the target icon until that is directly over the viewing platform.

To further fine-tune your location, move the map so the target symbol is at the desired location.

To further fine-tune your location, move the map so the target symbol is at the desired location.

Then, select the red pin icon on the right bar, and your primary pin will relocate to the new location.

Select the red pin to relocate the pin from current location.

Select the red pin to relocate the pin from current location.

Now that you have your exact location pinned, we need to find more information about this very location. Swipe up from the bottom bar to reveal all the sunrise, sunset information for this particular location on the day, indicated on the top bar. You can swipe down to hide this as well.

The colours of the sunrise, sunset, moorise, and moonset are all indicated in the bar allowing you to easily see which lines indicate which event.

Swipe up from the bottom data bar to reveal sunrise and sunset info.

Swipe up from the bottom data bar to reveal sunrise and sunset info.

To get a better view of where the sun will be setting, zoom out so you can see a larger area.

Zoom out to see where the sun will be.

Zoom out to see where the sun will be.

Now you can see that the sun will be setting to the right of the Seine river, as seen from the Pont Neuf. To find out when the sun will set along the Seine river, we can zoom out even more, and adjust the date on the very top bar, as indicated below.

The single triangles immediately beside the date allow you to go forward or behind one day at a time. The icons beside that allow you to jump to celestial events, like full moon, half moon, solstice, etc.

If you hold down on the date, you can actually see the events in a list, and change the date to an exact day of your choice.

Alter the day from the top arrow icons to see how the sun markers change accordingly.

Alter the day from the top arrow icons to see how the sun markers change accordingly.

By looking at the screen capture above, you can see that on Friday August 21, 2015, the sun will once again rise along the Seine river, as seen from the Pont Neuf.

Now, keep in mind although this is meant to be exact, it can be off at times! I’ve had it a couple of times where the location was not exactly as I had thought it would be, unfortunately. It does, however, give you a very good indication as to where the sun will be give or take a day or two.

Keep in mind this app is capable of a lot more than the above! It allows you to incorporate elevation to see exactly when the sun will rise above a mountaintop, and performs other advanced calculations. I hope this brief guide enabled you to see an introduction to the app and has whet your appetite in finding out exactly where the sun will be around your neck of the woods!

If you use this app, please feel free to comment below and let me know how you like it!

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