If you’re looking to take advantage of the beautiful light shortly after sunrise or the warm glow just before sunset, or maybe you just want to use the sun in your photo, here are the sunrise and sunset times at the Tidal Basin for the period around when the cherry blossoms will be in bloom in 2017.
The times below are all the official, technical times. But in practice there’s some padding to take into account. They assume a perfectly clear view to a flat horizon. But even though DC doesn’t have traditional skyscrapers, there are still buildings on the horizon. So the times you actually get a visual on sunrise and sunset deviate a bit from the astronomical times.
In the case of sunrise at the Tidal Basin, we have to wait for the sun to get over some buildings. Depending on where you are along the Tidal Basin waterfront and the precise direction of the sunrise that morning, some of the buildings to contend with are the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, or the Jefferson Memorial. What that means in practice is that you can safely add at least 10-12 minutes to the times below before you’re likely to see the edges of the sun itself.
With sunset, you have the reverse as the sun disappears behind the buildings of Rosslyn and the hills of Arlington. So you should subtract about the same amount of time from the sunset times.
The same thing affects the angle of the sun. In that extra 10-15 minutes or so, the sun will move a few degrees. If you want a very accurate calculator that takes that into account, check out the Helios Sun Position Calculator app.
Predawn is also a very good time to get reflections off the Tidal Basin itself. It’s likely to be the stillest part of the day (and probably the coolest).
|March 2017||Sunrise Time||Sunrise Angle||Sunset Time||Sunset Angle|
|1||6:40 AM||99°||6:01 PM||261°|
|2||6:38 AM||98°||6:02 PM||262°|
|3||6:37 AM||98°||6:03 PM||262°|
|4||6:35 AM||97°||6:04 PM||263°|
|5||6:34 AM||97°||6:05 PM||263°|
|6||6:32 AM||96°||6:06 PM||264°|
|7||6:31 AM||96°||6:07 PM||264°|
|8||6:29 AM||95°||6:08 PM||265°|
|9||6:28 AM||95°||6:09 PM||265°|
|10||6:26 AM||94°||6:10 PM||266°|
|11||6:25 AM||94°||6:11 PM||266°|
|12||7:23 AM||93°||7:12 PM||267°|
|13||7:22 AM||93°||7:13 PM||267°|
|14||7:20 AM||92°||7:14 PM||268°|
|15||7:19 AM||92°||7:15 PM||268°|
|16||7:17 AM||91°||7:16 PM||269°|
|17||7:15 AM||91°||7:17 PM||269°|
|18||7:14 AM||90°||7:18 PM||270°|
|19||7:12 AM||90°||7:19 PM||270°|
|20||7:11 AM||89°||7:20 PM||271°|
|21||7:09 AM||89°||7:21 PM||271°|
|22||7:08 AM||88°||7:22 PM||272°|
|23||7:06 AM||88°||7:23 PM||272°|
|24||7:04 AM||87°||7:24 PM||273°|
|25||7:03 AM||87°||7:25 PM||273°|
|26||7:01 AM||86°||7:26 PM||274°|
|27||7:00 AM||86°||7:27 PM||274°|
|28||6:58 AM||85°||7:28 PM||275°|
|29||6:57 AM||85°||7:29 PM||275°|
|30||6:55 AM||84°||7:30 PM||276°|
|31||6:53 AM||84°||7:31 PM||276°|
There are some very handy smartphone apps that will tell you–and often show you–where the sun will be at any given time at any location. Some even have a heads-up display that uses your phone’s camera so you can see it exactly from the spot you’re standing at. I have a roundup of these apps for tracking the sun and moon here.
Cherry Blossom Visitor Guides
Planning on visiting DC to see the cherry blossoms? The uncertainty with predicting when the bloom will take place certainly makes things hard, but I've put together some information to help you make an educated guess to maximize your chances.
And if you're coming into town for the events of the cherry blossom festival or just for the flowers, I've also put together some ideas on where to stay and how to get to the cherry blossoms once you're here.
Washington DC Visitor Guides
If you're coming in from out of town, here are some useful travel guidebooks that can help you make the most of your visit. Because as stunning as the cherry blossoms are, there's an awful lot more to do and see in DC.
These are some of the most popular ones. Many of these are available as both traditional books and e-books that you can read on your phone or tablet.
- DK Travel
- Publisher: DK Eyewitness Travel
- Fodor s Washington D C with Mount Vernon Alexandria Annapolis Full color Travel Guide
- Fodor's Travel Guides
- Lonely Planet Washington DC
- Lonely Planet, Karla Zimmerman, Regis St Louis
- Elise Hartman Ford
- Publisher: FrommerMedia
- DK Travel
- Publisher: DK Eyewitness Travel
And here are some interesting options for less traditional guidesbooks if you'd like an emphasis on exploring DC on foot or diving into some of the region's very rich history.
- NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
- Barbara Noe Kennedy
- A History Lover s Guide to Washington D C Designed for Democracy
- Alison Fortier
Books on DC's Cherry Blossoms
If you're looking for books specifically on DC's cherry blossoms for yourself or as a gift, these two are my favorites.
- Ann McClellan
- Publisher: National Geographic