I was tempted by EarthSky’s extensive coverage on the equinoxes to check out and photograph the equinox sunset here in Mutare, Zimbabwe on September 22, 2015 and recorded much more than anticipated. To my surprise it turned out to be literally a blazing one due to the fortuitous occurrence of a bush fire concealed behind the exact point on the hill over which the sun went down.
The video above, which was taken to capture the setting sun and any visible sunspots, shows the unexpected appearance of a spectacular flaming fringe just below and to the left of the solar disk as it descends behind the tree lined summit.
This display which made the sun look as though it was ablaze, was caused by rapidly changing refraction of the setting sunlight by hot air and smoke rising from the hidden fire.
Twenty minutes later, just before dark, flames from it crossed the brow of the hill at the same location destroying vegetation between some of the trees behind which the sun had set.(lower half of image below).
Bottom line: Blazing equinox sunset over Mutare, Zimbabwe, captured by Peter Lowenstein.
Dr. Peter Lowenstein has contributed many beautiful and fascinating images and stories to EarthSky. Trained as a geochemist, he spent his early years with the Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea, specializing in metals and volcanoes. In 1989, he moved to the Zimbabwe Geological Survey as Chief Economic Geologist and has lived and worked in Zimbabwe ever since. Peter is now retired to Zimbabwe, in a house with a beautiful view in Murambi East, Mutare, where he pursues favorite hobbies including construction of electronic gadgets, listening to music, gardening, surfing the Internet ... and photography.