What makes sunsets so strikingly picturesque? Their saturated colours and mysterious outlines often cast an otherworldly appearance on the most mundane scenery. It seems that no one’s tropical vacation can be considered complete without that one photo, where oversized curly clouds are lit with red and orange hues, preferably amplified by reflections in the shimmering ocean waters.
While we might’ve seen it many times, in fact, many atmospheric conditions have to come together for one spectacular sunset.
As the sun rolls down the horizon, and its light draws a longer path towards the observer, it has to pass through thicker layers of air particles, letting only the longer, red waves of the spectrum reach our eyes, while scattering all other colours away. Clean air is another necessary ingredient in a beautiful sunset recipe, since dust and smog particles are too large, and mute all the colours. Air is generally cleaner in the fall, and it’s the best season to see a vivid sunset. This is also why tropical areas, where air pollution is a lesser problem than in developed urban environments, tend to produce more breathtaking sunsets.
Then, there are clouds. Clouds in the upper and middle layers of the atmosphere capture still “unfiltered” by dust particles light of the setting sun, making it bounce and reflect to the ground. Clouds add drama, and the endless variety of shapes that creates gradations in the reflected light, results in a unique vista every time.
Few landscapes can stir our souls, trigger memories, or make our hearts pound with joy and inspiration as sunsets do.
By: Anna Aráoz