Pullenhofen revisited

With the discovery of the Higgs boson last year the remaining great mysteries of the world have dwindled down to three (in order of ascending importance):

  • Is there life after death?
  • When will G.R.R Martin release the next book in the ice and fire series? (seriously George, you need to shape up here)
  • Why does the sun appear not to rise from where it is supposed to rise at Pullenhofen?

The first of the three is not really such a great mystery because every single one of us gets to solve it in the end. The second one will eventually also sort itself out when George gets low on cash and decides to finally sit his butt down and start writing. The third one however is indeed a great mystery with no apparent solution in sight.  That is why I decided to apply myself and try to investigate further.

Church at dawn 1
Just before sunrise. Obviously the sun is not where it is supposed to be!


Maybe some background information is necessary at this point, for those few that are not familiar with the Great Mystery. Some time ago I stumbled on the not so famous Pullenhofen and took some not so great photos with a blown out sky, about which I wrote in this post.

At home later I investigated the location in Google maps and also the sunrise details in the photographer’s ephemeris (TPE) website. There it was that with great surprise I found out that according to TPE the sun was supposed to rise about 30 degrees south from where it had risen while I was there.

Church at dawn 2
More evidence in this one. The sun is rising on the left side of the church. According to TPE and my flawless sense of orientation, it should be rising over the mountains on the right hand side of the photo.


This isn’t of course something most people would loose much sleep over. However, if you are a photographer you care about such details because the sun not rising where expected can seriously ruin your shot. After serious consideration I decided to loose one more morning sleep and get to Pullenhofen at dawn and confirm my suspicions.

To make the long story short, my suspicions were indeed confirmed. The sun does not rise from where expected at Pullenhofen. This could be happening for three reasons:
1. Either TPE got it wrong.
2. Or, my sense of orientation is a bit off (by ~30°).
3. Or, the Sun indeed rises from the wrong place at Pullenhofen.

If I had to pick one of the three, I would go with number 3 because TPE usually gets it right and obviously my sense of orientation is flawless.

This strange physical phenomenon doesn’t appear to bother any of the Pullenhofians otherwise we would have heard of their protests. Apparently non of them is a landscape photographer. Or maybe they feel adequately compensated by the spectacular sunrises such as the one on record here and have decided not to make a fuss over a few degrees.

No sun, no problem. Blurred on purpose.
No sun, no problem. Blurred on purpose.

Some time later the rain clouds moved in and hid the sun, thus also taking the source of my troubles away. I had a few minutes to take some shots of the distant mountains before the rain moved in and I moved out.

I am saving one beautiful photo of the clouds for my next post. Until then, merry Christmas!


© 2014 Epameinondas Stamos

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