The solstice is on its way! Although there may be celebrations and fun all over Seattle, there is at least one place where you can actually measure the astronomical significance of the longest day of the year: Solstice Park in West Seattle.
You’ve never heard of Solstice Park?
It’s been there since July 2005 – across the street from Lincoln Park, but I have to admit, I only just visited for the first time on Thursday. I loved it. At the top of the hill are stonework and earthworks aligned for sunset on the winter solstice, the summer solstice, and the equinoxes.
Credit: Jason Gift Enevoldsen
Sunset on June 11, 2009
As you can see, during this sunset the Sun isn’t setting quite perfectly above the summer solstice marker, and that’s because the photo was taken ten days before the solstice.
How to get there
Solstice Park is at 7400 Fauntleroy Way SW in Seattle. It used to be called “Lincoln Park Annex” and it still has six tennis courts right beside Fauntleroy, so that should help you find it. There are about 13 parking spaces on the south side of the park, and one handicapped spot at the end of a dead-end street near the top of the park.
Once you’re in the park there are trails that lead up to the overlook: you’ll walk past the tennis courts, through the P-Patch and continue on up the hill. When the trail ends go five more feet to enter the stonework circle and get the best views of sunset.
As of June 2009, the park is open from 4am to 11:30pm, giving you plenty of time for stargazing, unlike many city parks. If you’re looking for dark skies within the Seattle city limits, this is one of the better public places I’ve been to. The trails are unlit, and as long as you stay behind the middle of the overlook, the tennis court lights are shielded from view.
You have an almost perfect western horizon from south southwest to north northwest. The eastern horizon is blocked to about 35 degrees, but that helps cut out the light pollution from Seattle proper.
Stop by Pacific Science Center and take a look at our sundial.
Where’d I Get My Info?
A review by Nerd’s Eye View
~ A l i c e !