Tucson in 100 Objects — sunset

2014-07-27T18:00:00Z 2014-09-17T15:54:05Z Tucson in 100 Objects — sunset By Tom Beal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

We’re defining Tucson in 100 objects. The daily series began April 20. Follow along at tucson.com/100objects

Our open horizon is the principal ingredient in our spectacular sunsets.

The sun, after all, is simply a bright, white light in a black sky. You need atmosphere to break that light into its various colors.

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Molecules in the air scatter light. When the sun is overhead, the small, predominant ones — oxygen and nitrogen — are scattering low-wavelengths of sunlight, the blues and the violets. Our eyes are better at detecting blues and that’s why we see a blue sky.

When the sun sinks lower, we look through a longer stretch of atmosphere, and most of those colors on the blue end of the spectrum get filtered out.

Our eyes see the reds, oranges, and yellows, said J.J. Brost, science officer for the National Weather Service in Tucson.

That’s why the best sunsets are seen from beaches or mountaintops — anywhere the horizon isn’t blocked.

In Tucson, we have the added advantage of interesting natural features. The sun sets over ridges topped with saguaros and behind distant mountain ranges, each a different shade because of their relative distance.

And now it’s time for “Tucson in 100 Objects” to ride off into a perfect Tucson sunset.

Contact reporter Tom Beal at tbeal@tucson.com or 573-4158.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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