Sometimes sunsets are colorless as we just witness darkness arrive because of clouds or weather hiding the sunset. Other times our sky lights up in stunning hues of oranges and reds or various shades of blues and pinks.

I'm sure for you, like me, sunsets are just a daily part of life and unless we see a light show in the sky which often makes us pull out our phones to snap a photo and stare in awe, sunsets are simply another part of the day.

But who knew there are three parts to that day with literally, three sunsets every evening? In technical terms, sunsets happen at twilight when it's still light outside, but the sun is below the horizon according to the Time and Date website.

We rarely notice the sun setting unless that particular twilight, which occurs when Earth's upper atmosphere scatters and refracts sunlight, illuminates the lower atmosphere in that myriad of colors I mentioned above.

Anyway, according to the Atlas Obscura website, while we consider the sunset, or twilight, as once a day, there are actually three of them.


This twilight time is the brightest sunset of the phases. The Sun is just below the horizon according to Time and Date, when there's still enough natural light to continue outdoor activities.  To get technical, it's when the exact moment the sun is centered exactly at the horizon thus 0 degrees below it according to Time and Date.


This twilight or the second sunset if you will is when the center of the sun is between six and 12 degrees below the horizon. According to Time and Date, the stars are filling up the sky more while it's still light enough to navigate boats at sea.


This twilight is the darkest of the phases and not only happens at night as the last sunset if you will before the sun is completely gone, but it's the first stage when the sun rises again for the day. According to Time and Date, this is when the center of the sun is between 12 and 18 degrees below the horizon. This is when astronomers can observe stars and galaxies most clearly for the first time.

That all said, we have three sunrises as well because what comes around goes around when predawn or daybreak, and the sunrise has its three phases of twilight in reverse order according to Atlas Obscura.

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