How to plan the perfect sunset

By Forest Mullin
Sun contributor

Once you have arrived at your favorite Lake Michigan beach, instinctively place your hand up towards the sun and impress your company by telling them how many minuets are left before the sunset. Well OK, this is not quite Crocodile Dundee material, but it is an easy addition to your “woods wisdom” or the first step for some. This easy backcountry skill will guarantee you the ability to calculate how many minutes are left before the sun plunges into its abyss, using a very high-tech device called “your hand”. I’m taking a guess, but I think most people enjoy watching sunsets. However, if you are in the minority, this skill can also prevent you from being in the woods after sundown, in the darkness, alone!
Just place your arm straight out towards Lake Michigan. Bend your hand 90 degrees so your palm faces you. Line your pinky finger up with the horizon, or, in this case, the lake. Counting from the bottom, add how many fingers fit between the horizon and the bottom edge of the sun. Each finger, in modern terms, equals fifteen minutes. No, your thumb is not a finger. For instance, four fingers fit between the horizon and the sun in the adjacent graphic, meaning the sun will set in one hour. But if you arrive too early you might have to stack your other hand on top, giving you eight fingers or two hours of time. If you arrive even earlier than that you can use a stick and measure how many fingers fit along its length.