While there are beautiful sunsets in many destinations around the world, those found in the tropics are some of the best. At Jicaro Island Eco Lodge in Nicaragua we love spending the late afternoon sitting by the lake, watching the sun lower over the west, feeling the warmth of the tropical sun give way to the coming cool of the evening.
Have you ever wondered what makes those gorgeous yellows, oranges, pinks and reds? Well, we’re here to give you a little lesson! It is actually a sort of complicated process, but we’ll do our best to give you a crash course.
1. The light from the sun looks white to us, but it is actually composed of all the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet).
2. As the light from the sun travels through our atmosphere to our eye, it hits things (particles), and the number of those things determines the color that is “released” or made visible, from that white light.
3. During the day, when the sun is high in the sky, it travels through the least amount of atmosphere (things) to reach our eyes. At sunrise and sunset, when the sun is low on the horizon, it travels through the most amount of atmosphere (things) to reach our eyes.
4. Blue light travels in short small waves, and red light (at the other end of the spectrum) travels in long big waves. All the colors in between gradually go from short small waves to long big ones.
5. When the sun is high in the sky, and there is less atmosphere for the light to travel through, the blue light is scattered more, but when the sun is lower in the sky, because there is more atmosphere for the light to travel through, the red light is scattered more. What we see is the scattered light. This is why the sky is blue during the day, and wonderful warm colors at sunrise and sunset.
Myth Buster Moment: It is often believed that because the color of the sky is dictated by the number of particles the light travels through, dust and pollution must contribute to making beautiful bright sunsets. Well, this is incorrect! The dust and pollution particles in fact soften and dull the colors. So, being in a spot with gorgeous bright sunsets indicates that there is a high quality of air!