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Top Sunrises Around The World

UPDATED September 11, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman

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The beauty of Mother Nature is rarely more evident than in the breath-taking views of a gorgeous sunrise. Fortunately, it`s a phenomenon that happens daily, and in all locations around the globe at some point. While picking a "best of" list is always tricky - and by no means exhaustive - the following locales each have a unique perspective of the sun`s morning ritual.

Pitt Island, New Zealand: This tiny island territory of less than 40 residents lies around 500 miles east of New Zealand`s largest island. What`s its big sunrise distinction? Well it lies just to the west of the International Date Line, and is considered to have the world`s "first sunrise of the new day." Granted other locations in the Pacific and Antarctica may technically see sunrise first, but this is the first permanently populated location to greet the sun each morning. Kahuitara Point is the island`s eastern-most location, and the place where tourists flock to watch the sun rise over the Pacific.

Iceland: Head to Reykjavik during the summer to enjoy the "Midnight Sun", as it`s called, from the world`s northern-most capital of an independent nation. From May through July, Reykjavik sees "white nights" where the sun technically sets, but it never gets truly dark. In fact, "nighttime" - the time between astronomical sunset and sunrise - is less than three hours on the summer solstice. Along with this, the rugged beauty of Iceland`s mountains and fjords add a splendor to the rising sun`s rays, and the island is truly one of the world`s most interesting places to catch a glimpse of it.

Stonehenge, England: Scientists are still debating over this ancient monument`s origins and purpose, but one thing`s for sure - it has been a favorite place to watch sunrises (and sunsets) for millennia. The best time to track the sun`s assent into the sky is around the Earth`s equinoxes and solstices, when the site`s stones line up with the rising sun`s path and filter its rays through the towering monoliths. Since England`s weather can be notoriously skittish, you may want to plan your sunrise viewing for the summer solstice or autumn equinox, when the skies are typically clearer than other times of the year.

The Taj Mahal, Agra, India: Considered a sacred site since it`s construction in the mid-17th century, the Taj Mahal has also become one of Asia`s best places to view the rising sun. With its shimmering marble and reflecting pools, the monument seems to bathe in the yellows and pinks of the morning sun, and reflects the light on the neighboring minarets and gardens. That, combined with the relatively flat and verdant land surrounding it, makes it a contender in terms of global sunrise locales... just don`t visit during the monsoon season!

Machu Picchu, Peru: This 15th century Incan site sits higher in elevation than any other on this International list - nearly 8,000 ft. above sea level. Surrounding it are gray peaks and cliffs broken up by large expanses of green grass and lush vegetation. Combine this with the morning mists rising from the Urubamba River, and you`ll see the sun`s rays filter through these canyons like no place else on Earth. But be advised, just like the Taj Mahal, avoid going during the rainy season.

For those of you who may want to stay a little closer to the United States, there are some domestic places where the sunrise can definitely take your breath away:

Cadillac Mountain, Maine: You may not have heard of this New England peak, but Cadillac Mountain has been called the location of the "nation`s first sunrise" each morning. In actuality, it holds this distinction for about half the year, but more importantly, at 1,530 feet, it is the highest point on the East Coast within 25 miles of the coast. From its summit, you can see a stunning sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, and on a really clear morning, you`ll see the sunlight bounce off Nova Scotia - more than 100 miles away. But remember, the sun rises early here- around 4:48 a.m. EDT in late June!

Grand Canyon, Arizona: Watching the sunrise here is so popular that there are sunrise-seeing tours, and one of the favorite locations is along the South Rim of the Canyon, such as Yaki Point. With both eastern and western viewpoints, you can watch the sun rise over the high buttes and mesas while it bathes the rocks in pink, orange, and yellow hues. Another great location is Navajo Point, which at nearly 7,500 feet, is the highest point on the South Rim and overlooks the Colorado River`s big bend area and the Painted Desert.

Maui, Hawaii: Ever seen a sunrise above the clouds? With the exception of being in an airplane, most people have not - but now here`s your chance! At nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, the Haleakala National Park sunrise wins as the loftiest location on this best-of list. The Haleakala peak was given its name by early Hawaiians, which means "house of the sun", and given the air`s extreme clarity, watching the sunrise over the lower clouds hugging the volcano certainly makes this moniker seem perfect. One note though, because of its high elevation, it is chilly - often in the 40s - so bundle up and bring your camera to capture an awe-inspiring new morning.

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Story image: Sunrise over the Haleakala volcano in Maui, Hawaii. Courtesy Pedro Szekely and Wikimedia Commons

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