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.
Want to Help Support DC's Cherry Trees?
If you'd like to help support the care and upkeep of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin, the Trust for The National Mall has launched an Endow a Cherry Tree Campaign. Donations go to the official Cherry Tree Endowment, which will give the National Park Service additional resources to fund the care, maintenance, and possible replacement of the cherry trees. You can find more information here.
The Trust is dedicated to marshaling private support for maintaining and improving the history National Mall area. I'm not affiliated with the Trust--just an admirer of their efforts.