Friday, July 7, 2017

You really can't see the Farallons from the beach...

Remember our ongoing discussion of the Farallons? 

(Can you see the Farallons from San Francisco)?  

I finally got to the beach to check it out on foot, IRL.  

As a reminder, here's a shot of the Farallon Islands from the parking lot at Sutro Baths (about 250 feet above sea level).  See those bumps just on the horizon?  Those are the Farallons! 

Earlier this week, I happened to be driving past the Sutro Baths and took this opportunity to take a picture from the nearby beach.  As I drove down the hill, I watched the islands disappear beneath the horizon.  

The arrow marks the spot where the islands should be on the horizon, if only they were visible from 6 feet (ca. 2m) above sea level. 

Looks like our calculations are just about spot-on.  

Just thought you'd like to know... 

Search on! 


  1. holy cowabunga… you get to drive your pickup & boards right onto the beach, to the surf line? neat,
    just keep an eye out for the whites & orcas ;)
    you might try these — just keep the islands in sight…
    powered - you could recharge on the Farallons
    without power
    in Hawaiʻi

  2. There is clearly a layer of fog. I have seen the Farallones from the beach many times. Either the earth is flat or the math they taught us is wrong. Go back and check when there is NOT a marine layer of fog. You can see them from Bolinas beach too. I have taken eye height into account as well. Even at ten feet eye height only 30 feet of island would be visible yet you see much more on an ACTUALLY clear day.

  3. There is clearly a fog layer in your photo. Go back and check on an ACTUALLY clear day.

  4. This is a great discussion... and ties in really well with the Challenge this week about Fermi Estimation (or "Fermination" as Jon calls it). I'll write more about this in 2 weeks when I get back from the Caribbean. I'll keep checking those visuals at the beach. There are other, really interesting forces at work here! Thanks for bringing it up.

  5. I’m sitting at 59’ high ocean beach chalet, 27.3 mi from the 352’ tall island. shouldn’t be able to see 482’ over the horizon. it’s too foggy today but workers here say you can see it well in a clear day.
    a clear pic of the island from here would be earth-shattering.

  6. also, these 2 pics are obviously taken on different days...