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The most popular #sunset and #sunrise locations in all 50 states
The sun is always rising on Instagram.
Human beings have been captivated with sunrises and sunsets since the dawn of civilization. If you want to see what it’s like to wake up or end the day pretty much anywhere around the world, all you have to do is search either the #Sunrise and #Sunset hashtags on Instagram.
The rising sun has over 23 million tags on Instagram; the setting sun has over 89 million tags. Every 15 seconds or so it seems, a new shot of the early morning or late evening’s sun uploaded from somewhere around the planet will pop up on Instagram’s feed.
At the time of this writing, the West Coast is just waking up. The most recent #sunrise photos come from Californians. One shows the sun framed by power lines and ’70s style houses in Berkeley. Other rose-gold-hued shots flood in from Napa, Costa Mesa, San Francisco, and the Catalinas Islands. Every so often a latergram from somewhere like Abaco Islands, Bahamas, will disrupt the timeline, but otherwise it’s a perfect collage of an entire region’s first hour of the day.
From July to November 2015, Modernize analyzed a total of 2,515,334 images on Instagram with the #sunrise or #sunset hashtag and yielded some fascinating insights. Turns out that most sunrise shots came from the United States (probably because the U.S. is the largest English-speaking country), which produced six #sunrise photos for every 10,000 people. Italy and Indonesia come at a distant second and third, with 2.9 and 1.8 #sunrise photos, respectively.
The states with the greatest number of #sunrise posts on Instagram are Hawaii, followed by Florida and Maine. Why Maine? Maine’s claim to fame as the first state in the continental United States to see the sunrise ensures a steady stream of tourists, especially on the top of Cadillac Mountain.
A photo posted by Bayler – Bernese Mountain Dog (@baylerthebernesemtdog) on
Modernize’s list of top Instagram sunrise locations in every state yields some surprises.
It’s no shocker that the most #sunrise photos from Arizona come from the Grand Canyon. Philadelphia International Airport, the no. 1 location for sunrises in Pennsylvania, is mostly from excited locals about to hop on a plane to a more exotic destination.
A photo posted by Ryan (@onewheelwheatley) on
But for the most part, each state’s most popular sunrise locations are overwhelmingly near beaches, state or national parks, and other popular tourist sites—such as the Haleakala National Park in Hawaii.
Sunrise at 10,000 ft looking over #Haleakala National Park in #Maui. #haleakalanationalpark #hawaii #mauilife #nature #naturelovers #pacificocean #volcano #nikon_photography_ #naturephotography #naturehippys #usa #neverstopexploring #natgeotravelphoto #nationalpark #NPS100
A photo posted by Mike Gregory (@mikeg_photos) on
Ohio appears to be the rare outlier; the most Instagrammed sunrise in the state is by the North Canton Water Tower. It’s not a bad view.
#Day 159 #412 #sunny #October #watertower #52shadesofblue #50ShadesOfBlue #50shades #blue #blending #berries #fall #blending #water #conservation #sunrise #ecology #startoffall #environment #parkinglot #tuesday #harmony #iPhone #iphone6plus #iphonephotography #landscape #lightstudy #northcantonwatertower #ohio #sky
A photo posted by Jeff Mueller (@computerartman) on
When it comes to the end of the day, Modernize noticed a distinct shift in regional habits. The United States is still the top producer of sunset photos. In fact, the U.S. produces twice as many sunset photos than sunrise photos. The United Kingdom beats out Indonesia as the no. 3 destination of sunset photos. The laidback West Coast is far more likely to share photos of sunsets than sunrises. While California shares 9.23 #sunrise photos per 10,000 residents, that number almost triples for sunset photos, making the Golden State the second most popular state for shots of the evening sun. Hawaii is the first, and Maine ranks third for sunset shots.
For most states, the most photographed sunset is in a different location than the most photographed sunrise. The change in time also reveals a change in users. While #sunrise seems to be favored by the active crowd—those who favor-early mornings hikes or swims at the beach—the #sunset hashtag seems to encompass many different lifestyles and behaviors.
Rather than Myrtle Beach, the most #sunset photos in South Carolina come from Charleston.
A photo posted by Traveling Ink Charleston (@travelinginkcharleston) on
And while Los Angeles is the top location for sunrises in California, the state’s most popular location for sunsets is in San Francisco. It’s no surprise, considering that the city contains a certain bridge perfect for framing against sunsets.
To see Modernize’s complete data for sunsets and sunrises around the world, check out its interactive maps.
Photos via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman
Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.