Isaac and I recently moved to Oakland Beach in Rhode Island, where sunsets are particularly beautiful. Every day there is a pretty spectacular sunset and the colors are different every day. But what determines the color? How exactly do sunsets work? What conditions are necessary for the perfect sunset? Let’s find out!
What is a Sunset?
A sunset, also known as a sundown, is the daily disappearance of the sun below the horizon due to Earth’s rotation. As viewed from the Equator, the equinox Sun sets exactly due west in both Spring and Autumn.
“The time of sunset is defined in astronomy as the moment when the upper limb of the Sun disappears below the horizon. Near the horizon, atmospheric refraction causes sunlight rays to be distorted to such an extent that geometrically the solar disk is already about one diameter below the horizon when a sunset is observed.
Sunset is distinct from twilight, which is divided into three stages, the first being civil twilight, which begins once the Sun has disappeared below the horizon, and continues until it descends to 6 degrees below the horizon; the second phase is nautical twilight, between 6 and 12 degrees below the horizon; and the third is astronomical twilight, which is the period when the Sun is between 12 and 18 degrees below the horizon. Dusk is at the very end of astronomical twilight, and is the darkest moment of twilight just before night. Night occurs when the Sun reaches 18 degrees below the horizon and no longer illuminates the sky.”Wikipedia
What Determines the Colors?
The colors of the sunset result from a phenomenon called scattering. Molecules and small particles in the atmosphere change the direction of light rays, causing them to scatter. Scattering affects the color of light coming from the sky, but the details are determined by the wavelength of the light and the size of the particle. Read more about this on Science Daily.
Sunsets are beautiful and I could stare at them all day every day! I am so lucky that my new area seems to attract the best sunsets. You can follow me on Instagram to see all the pretty Oakland Beach sunsets because I will never get sick of taking photos of them!
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