What makes sunsets so great in Arizona?

What makes sunsets so great in Arizona?

We love to share our sunset and sunrise photos to our friends and family that live anywhere outside of Arizona.  We're spoiled with bright vibrant colors early and late in the day, but what is it that makes sunsets so great in Arizona?

First, let's walk through what we're actually looking at.  Light is a wave of energy, and is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum.  It has wavelengths and frequencies that produce different colors to our eyes.  The highest frequencies and wavelengths are violet and purple. The lowest are red and orange.

As the sun sets, light shines through a lot more of the atmosphere compared to when it's high in the sky.  The light is bent, reflected and refracted from tiny particles in the atmosphere.  The result is a lower frequency, and a red or orange color.


image: Storm Prediction Center

So, how about the factors that make the colors appear more vibrant in Arizona:
Less pollution - Particles from pollution in other parts of the country can scattered light more, which can inhibit the variation of light we see.  With lower pollution in Arizona, we can see the changing bright vibrant colors at the far end of the spectrum.
High clouds - We usually don't have a lot of moisture over Arizona, other than tens of thousands feet aloft.  High clouds reflect more light, and give us fantastic sunsets.
Landscape - We like to brag about our mountainous foregrounds.

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