Something spectacular is in the sky this time of year

Why some sunsets are more brilliant than others

A lot of our viewers have been wondering why our sunsets seem even more beautiful and vibrant than usual? 

The light coming from the sun is white – but oxygen and nitrogen in our atmosphere break up and scatter the light into colors. Violet, blue, and green travel in shorter, choppy wavelengths, while red, orange, and yellow travel as longer, smoother wave lengths. Wavelength is important because it determines what colors we see. 

Shorter wave lengths (like blue) are scattered more than longer wave lengths – so those colors spread across the sky. Even though violet is shorter than blue, our eyes are more sensitive to blue light than purple so we see the blue and filter out the violet.

When the sun is on the horizon, the light travels through more oxygen and nitrogen. Those short, choppy wavelength colors get lost in the travel through more atmosphere. Whereas the longer wave lengths - red, orange, and yellow are better able to reach our eyes, thus creating our spectacular sunsets.

Clouds add another dimension to our sunsets, especially high clouds.  The most vivid sunsets are usually associated with high clouds, called cirrus clouds. These can reach over 20,000 feet above ground. This high up in our sky, they are able to intercept unadulterated sunlight, the light that has suffered the least color loss.  

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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