Backyard Observatory

NASA Has Simulated What Sunset Would Look Like on Other Planets

If you've ever wanted to sunset on another planet, this might be as close as you'll get.

There's something terrifying about a phrase like "sunset on Mars." It implies some kind of inevitable science-fiction death. "Sunset on Neptune." It feels like the title of a pulp sci-fi novel in which humankind's hubris leads to its terrible demise. 

That's not at all the vibe of new sunset visualizations from NASA. The Agency has created a series of visuals that show what sunset might look like on other planets or moons in our solar system, as well as the exoplanet Trappist-1e. We're not quite talking about the sound of birds and the texture of that sunset, but the color that you'd see if you were kicking back in a spacesuit enjoying the sun going down on, say, Venus

Geronimo Villanueva, a planetary scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, created the sunset simulations. They were built while constructing a computer modeling tool for a possible future mission to the very cold Uranus. 

"To validate the accuracy of his tool, Villanueva simulated known sky colors of Uranus and other worlds, some of which are shown [in the video]," NASA wrote about the project. "The animations show the Sun appearing to set from the perspective of someone on these worlds. As these worlds rotate away from the light of the Sun, which is what happens during a sunset, photons get scattered in different directions depending on the energy of the photons and the types of molecules in the atmospheres. The result is a lovely palette of colors that would be visible to those standing on these worlds."

This isn't the first time NASA has shared otherworldly sunsets over the last couple of months. The Mars Curiosity rover snapped a photo of the sky over the red planet, showing both Earth and Venus. That image was taken to get a view of the at-that-time dusty sunset on Mars, which is believed to be common during the spring in Mars' southern hemisphere. These new sunets have a different purpose entirely, but you're welcome to pretend that it's real purpose is to let you imagine getting the hell off this planet for a little while.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.