"" Writer's Wanderings: Maui - Sunsets

Friday, March 09, 2012

Maui - Sunsets

Our condo in Honokawai, Maui, faced west and gave us front row seats each night for a spectacular sunset. We enjoyed them so much that we only ate at a restaurant one night--making sure we still had a view of the sunset, of course.

I wondered why the sunsets were so beautiful. I remembered that the ones in Moorea, French Polynesia, were as well. Did it have to do with the Pacific ocean? The atmosphere around the islands? I went searching and found an article about the colors of twilight and sunset that had been printed in Weather Wise magazine. What I gleaned is that as the sun's rays lengthen, the light is scattered by particles in the atmosphere. If the area has a lot of smog or pollution, the rays are blocked more than scattered. So much of the color comes from this scattering.

A lot of the drama comes from the clouds. The best sunsets (and sunrises) have a few clouds. The clouds are often backlit and then as the sun sets, they reflect the colors that are scattered by the sun's rays hitting those particles in the sky.

Now that's probably not a real scientific summary of the article but you can read it for yourself if you're interested in a little more detail. The pictures I took each evening as the sun set were all different. The sky changed as the sun lowered and the illumination of the clouds came after the last bit of the sun dipped below the horizon. So, different nights, different clouds. Different rays scattered each minute of the sun set. All of it led to a peaceful end to our day.

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