Charlie Annenberg has been all around the world. But no matter how far from home he goes, he has never seen a better sunset than the one in Santa Monica.

And it is for that very reason that he set up a webcam to share that sunset with the rest of the world.

“I don’t believe there is a prettier sunset in the world than here in Santa Monica,” said Annenberg, vice president and director of the Annenberg Foundation and founder of the multimedia organization Explore.

“From about mid-October through the winter, it is made up of these brilliant pinks and oranges and blues. And on Explore.org people can get together during the ‘golden hour’ and watch it.

“There are very few places where you get direct access to watching a full sun dip beneath the horizon. And here in Santa Monica is one of them, but we often overlook that which is under our nose … Most winter climates elsewhere, most of the world has a grayish cloud color atmosphere so you don’t get that texture of sunset. And you can watch it day in and day out from 5 o’clock on and get those winter hues, and it’s online and it’s free and it’s for everybody.”

The camera, located at the local Hotel Shangri-La and pointed directly at Santa Monica beach, recently celebrated its millionth-view milestone with a cocktail reception at the hotel’s penthouse. But this camera is just one of many that Explore.org has set up around the globe, cameras that Annenberg says showcase the “pearls of the planet.” And though he is partial to the camera closest to headquarters, he enjoys the others too.

“The very best of our ‘pearls of the planet’ live cameras is on the brown bears in Alaska,” Annenberg said. “In the summer and fall you see the salmons going upstream and bears catching them. And it is light 24 hours a day. In fact, right now the sunsets in Alaska are stunning as well.”

Annenberg said he likes to look at nature as a cathedral and that the cameras are meant as a way for people to escape and reconnect with nature.

“I often like to call it ‘Sesame Street’ for adults,” he said. “As we get older we get caught up in our everyday lives. So on the most basic level the cameras are for people to escape and reconnect with nature.”

But Annenberg said the cameras are also some of the most “cutting-edge” technology and can be used for more than just their entertainment value.

“You can now observe animals in the wild. You really can study [them] as deeply as you want,” he said. “You could study these live cams and have more information [about these animals] than any scientist in the history of the world has had before … So it’s an incredible tool.”

Mike Gasbara of Explore’s marketing team said Annenberg’s mission is to allow people to get up close and personal with nature in the hopes they will fall in love with the world again and that it will “result in people just being better humanitarians.”

In addition to the Santa Monica beach camera, Annenberg has found another way to allow his fellow Californians to fall back in love with their state.

“We have recently installed a camera right here off the California coast. So now you can see underwater. It’s really spectacular,” he said.

Annenberg is proud of what he has accomplished with Explore, which he believes to be the “purest place on the web.”

“What’s unique about it is it’s 100-percent philanthropic … You can feel free to go on it and not think someone is trying to sell you something. It’s just about immersing yourself in nature.”

To see the live camera at Santa Monica beach, go to http://explore.org/live-cams/player/santa-monica-sunset-cam. For information about Explore, visit explore.org.

jennifer@www.smdp.com