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Why sunsets are more colorful and spectacular in the Arizona desert

Sunsets are more colorful and spectacular in the Arizona desert than anywhere else, and we get to enjoy them frequently – just about daily, in fact.  This article explains why.
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Sunset in the community of Silverleaf in North Scottsdale

Sunset in the community of Silverleaf in North Scottsdale

Before explaining why sunsets are more beautiful in Arizona, here’s a short primer on the science behind sunsets.
Visible light is composed of a spectrum of colors: violets and blues are on one end, and oranges and reds are on the other.  Violet, blue and green light have short wavelengths, whereas red, yellow and orange light have long wavelengths.
In order for sunlight to be seen, it has to pass through the molecules that make up the Earth’s atmosphere. Passing through the Earth’s atmosphere is easier for longer wavelengths of light – shorter wavelengths tend to have a harder time, and generally scatter when they encounter these molecules.
Depending on the time of day, it takes light either a longer or shorter time to pass through the atmosphere. At sunset, sunlight has to follow a much longer path to travel through the atmosphere than it does at midday.
Most people agree that the sky is blue. This color is determined by the wavelengths of reflected light we see. When it takes less time to pass through the atmosphere, blue light can fight its way through.
Because blue light has a short wavelength, it scatters when it encounters atmospheric molecules. Shorter wavelengths tend to scatter more effectively, so this is why the sky is blue during the day.
At sunset, when there are more atmospheric molecules to work through, light with longer wavelengths, like orange and red light, is better able to make its way through. This is why sunsets generally showcase these colors.
Sunsets in Scottsdale and Arizona are extra-spectacular and colorful because of these additional factors:

  1. Because the Arizona climate is clean and dry, factors like pollution and humidity, which ordinarily mute the effect of the sunset, are non-issues.
  2. Arizona’s “feather” clouds can catch light as it filters through and reflect it back to our eyes against a darker sky, creating a much more dramatic effect than in other places.
  3. Additional particles in the air, like dust, make sunsets take on a redder tinge (rather than yellow), so the colors we get to experience tend to be more brilliant than ones showcased in other areas of the country.

An additional benefit in the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley areas is that the colors of the sky are reflected off of the mountain ranges that run through our area, causing them to glow a range of colors including purple, pink and gold.  So, not only is the sky beautiful to look at, but so is the Aspenglow of the mountains.
And, because we have very few days where cloudy skies block the view of the sun, we get to enjoy a spectacular sunset most days of the year.
Are our beautiful sunsets convincing you to move to Arizona?  Contact our Arizona real estate experts on the Matheson Team for more information.
Reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about our area.
Don Matheson
Realtor | Founder
The Matheson Team – RE/MAX Fine Properties
21000 N. Pima Rd., #100, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
[email protected]
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