Summer outdoor cinema. A fun event showing a classic movie. The warmth of summer on your face. And a cool drink in your hand.
Yes, life doesn’t get much better than peak summer outdoor cinema season, which starts this month at long last. We’ve got the popcorn ready!
But just why are August and September the very best times to host this kind of event? Let’s find out together.
The light, the light
It is something most people who attend a summer outdoor cinema event, and even many of those who organise one, probably never consider.
But the time of sunset on the day in question, and the time your film is shown, is in fact THE major factor to think about when it comes to screening films outdoors.
We need to wait for natural light to leave the sky as the sun disappears below the horizon before screening to ensure the best quality experience for the audience.
Expert technicians often advise waiting until a few minutes after the sun has gone to bed to set the ball rolling and hit play.
Once the Summer Solstice has passed sunset times change by around two minutes a day, every day. The solstice is otherwise known as the longest day of the year and earlier this year it took place on June 21.
Those two minutes may not sound like much but it soon adds up to a drastic change.
In June sunset might take place at about 10.15pm on the longest day. But by September it has reduced back to 6.41pm by the end of the month.
That’s quite some change to consider. If doing the maths while organising your summer outdoor cinema event makes your head spin, there’s a handy sunset calculator right here.
If we had to pick the most optimal day of 2022 to stage a summer outdoor cinema screening we’d go for September 22.
On that day sunset is expected to take place at 6.59pm. That leaves plenty of time to screen a movie – or depending on your preference – even two.
That’s just us though, what day do you think would be best?
The wonder of science
There’s science, as well as nature, at play when it comes to sunset. Red, orange and pink skies are incredible to look at from your movie deckchair and an Instagram-lover’s dream shot to boot.
A study by an American university found the colours we see in a sunset are the results of a scientific phenomenon called light scattering.
Scattering happens when light rays hit particles in the air, changing the direction of the light. And of course the reason we have sunset in the first place is down to Earth’s rotation at around 1,000 miles per hour.