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Nov 28, 2013 10:59 AM by Matt Brode

The science of sunsets

TUCSON - Paris has the Arc de Triomphe... New York City, the Empire State Building. But Tucson's landmark cannot be touched.

From orange to yellow to purple, Tucson's sunsets are the most magical and colorful around-- but for the most beautiful ones you'll ever see you need seomthing you might not expect.

Clouds. The first ingredient for creating the perfect sunset.

These puffy patches in the sky create something scientists call scattering. The clouds do exactly that: create small atmospheric particles which scatter the beautiful colors we see.

Add that to Arizona's low level of polluition and out come those vibrant red and orange colors which make spectacular sunsets.

While the desert can be unrelenting when it comes to creating the perfect sunset, being dry is also key. The arid air pushes clouds higher than normal, which are in turn hit by the sun;s rays before they pass thorugh the lower atmoshphere. This eliminates some of the more damaging particles in the aire found in other parts of the country.

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