Science of Sunsets

Sunsets are one of the things that make Arizona, Arizona but how they happens is less understood

Jacob Godicz, staff writer

One of Arizona’s features that make it such a beautiful state is its sunsets with the colors ranging from red to purple across the sky. Every night, people take pictures of the setting sun remarking about how beautiful it is. This phenomenon is seen every single day yet the process of how sunsets actually work is not common knowledge.
The colors of the sunset result from a process called scattering. Molecules and small particles in the atmosphere change the direction of light rays, causing them to scatter. The color that appears is determined by the wavelength of light and the size of the particles. Scattering also answers the age old question on why is the sky blue?
Blue and violet are shorter wavelengths and are found through the sky more than any other color but it is harder to see violet so the sky appears as blue.
“I look up at the sky every evening waiting to see what colors in the air will appear,” Sebastian Kond said, a sophomore.
All that is needed is dust and light, but at the right time, the sun in the middle of the day does not reach far enough to create the right wave lengths. The longer path during sunset light takes along the surface of the earth, scatters and removes the violet and blue light from the sun creating light that is reddened. This is especially true when the air in the atmosphere is clean since clean air molecules are extremely effective in scattering violet light.
Different sized molecules and particles as well as the lightwave itself decide what color the sky would be. Since Arizona is so dry, there is more dust in the air, and more dust equals more color.
Clouds have a very positive effect to the colors and contract of sunset colors, but only if they are of high altitude
“Clouds like the cirrus, cirro-cumulus, and alto-stratus clouds, to intercept the light from the sun before it’s attenuated by pollutants near the surface of the earth,” says Lohren Edmenton, a sophomore majoring in meteorology at Collin’s College.
Clouds like the strato-cumulus and stratus clouds rarely have a positive impact on a sunset. When they do it usually happens over the ocean in the tropics where the air is cleaner or after a late-afternoon thunderstorm.
If there is a lot of dust in the sky that does not mean it is unhealthy to breathe in. The dust in the air is so high in the atmosphere that it does not affect anyone below it. The people of Arizona also have nothing to do with it because activity pushing dust and dirt in the air is too low to the ground to be added into the equation of colors.