The Lab: Sun Tracking Obsessed

Jun 26, 2020

At Commune we like to talk about practices that are “old and true” — around forever and still just as useful, even if the uses may have evolved with time. 

Precisely tracking the sun was certainly a prehistoric pursuit (Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza...), and yet it is still a shared passion among the video producers, gardeners, and natural builders who pass through here in Topanga.

Growing up I had, like many, a macro sense of the sun’s trajectory in coastal California. East, sunrise over the hills. West, sunset over the ocean. But now it’s not uncommon to find me on my belly looking up and out a window, trying to determine exactly when the sun might pool on the floor and blow out a shot. Or Julia and I debating over how much the palm tree shades the back of the middle garden bed this time of year.

Observation over time is certainly the most satisfying method of resolving such debates –there’s nothing that makes you feel quite so “at home” like knowing which mountain notch catches the solstice sunset – but our video crew also uses a nifty app called Sun Seeker

Here are a few screenshots from around the property:

Around 5pm is when I get blinded trying to work in the yurt these days:

It's 4pm and time for the sun to come through the stained glass in the studio:

And really the best time of year to catch the sunset from the patio is between the winter solstice and the equinox:

I’m somewhat obsessed with this fascinating tool for living in touch with the tilt and spin of this crazy earth. 

P.S. There are other similar apps that are free, like Lumos and Sun & Moon, but I like the 3D functionality of Sun Seeker.

How do you track the sun? When do sunbeams light up your room? 

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