On 20 July 1969, 652 million people - or about 1/5th of everyone on earth at the time - watched the first humans land on the moon.
Eight years later, in 1997, 2 billion people around the world watched Princess Diana's funeral.
And in 2012, 3.6 billion people watched the Olympic Games in London.
Technology, for better or worse, has dramatically increased the ability for collective human experience.
It's made it so that the population of the world can all witness, or mourn, or marvel at the same thing at the same time.
But there's one thing that we don't have figures for that I bet smashes all these records. And instead of being a once in a lifetime event, it's something that happens, without fail, at the end of every day.
There are so few things that are really universally enjoyed. But no matter where you go in the world, when the day ends, and what's left of the sun's light explodes across the sky, you'll find people (who otherwise have nothing in common) gathered together to marvel at the setting sun.
The magnetism of a sunset is one of those unexplainable quirks of the human experience. It's so impossible to not like sunsets that admitting that you do borders on the same level of non-statement as saying that you like to travel. But exponentially more so.
I've often wondered why we watch sunsets. If there is some sort of evolutionary reason. Like maybe it makes sense that we would take the time to collectively make note of the end of the day. Because darkness has always historically meant danger. And that to watch the sun dip below the horizon is to know you're safe for the last time until tomorrow.
At more sentimental times, I've thought that maybe it's a celebration. A kind of gratitude at having made it through the end of another day on earth.
Or maybe, most likely, it's because we know that, when we see a sun set, we're witnessing something special. Something magical. That, like all of the most beautiful and magical parts of being a human, we don't entirely understand.
But despite all that, a sunset isn't a reliable and repeatable miracle. It's entirely understandable and explainable result of the structure of our solar system.
So what are we seeing when we're looking at a sunset?
Let's begin at the beginning.