What, after all, is a sunset without the clouds? A bright ball disappearing behind a line, that’s what.
~ Gavin Pretor-Pinney, The Cloudspotter’s Guide
The word “sunset” – evocative, redolent of poetry – must be a relic of the geocentric universe. We understand now that it describes an almost imaginary phenomenon, a trick of perspective. The sun never really sets, or else it’s perpetually setting and rising at the same time, which is saying the same thing. It’s a testimony either to our poverty of imagination or to our prudent restraint that we’ve never, in our enlightened era, seen fit to replace the word.