There are only a few more weeks left for us to enjoy the gorgeous sunsets over the Florida Bay. Last evening was another pretty one and I got into a conversation with another about how spectacular the sunset a few days prior had been. "Well you know what makes the difference, don't you? Pollution," she said.
Pollution? I thought for a moment and then responded. "I remember the spectacular sunsets when we stayed on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia." I went on to describe a few thinking that it would discredit the pollution idea.
No way. "There's pollution there too in all the fires they set to do their cooking," she answered. I gave up.
Ah, but there's always the internet to explore and explore I did. I found the NOAA site and an article on what makes a beautiful sunset. Pollution has nothing to do with it. As a matter of fact shortly into the article it dispelled the idea saying that if pollution had anything to do with it, Los Angeles, New York City and a few other places they named would be know world wide for their sunsets.
So, what makes it so beautiful? The small air molecules and the wavelength of the light that is more angled as the sun begins to set. The spectrum of colors which range from violet to red (remember all those prism lessons in science?) in our sunlight play on the small air molecules creating our blue skies in the daytime and our colorful sunrises and sunsets at daybreak and evening. Larger particles of pollution whether man made or from natural causes (ie. volcanoes, fires) do not scatter the colors like a clear sky does. It's all in the very interesting article, The Colors of Sunset and Twilight, on the NOAA site. Take a few minutes to read it.
One interesting fact I learned that really doesn't have to do with a sunset is that were our eyes not so sensitive to the color blue our sky would actually appear violet. Cool!