(WWLP) – Have you noticed the sunsets lately have been bright and colorful across western Massachusetts?

A 22News viewer set photos of the sunset in Belchertown Thursday night. If you have a news tip, photos or video email us at reportit@wwlp.com.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), eye-catching sunrises and sunsets seem to favor the fall and winter. Clean air is, in fact, the main ingredient common in the brightly colored low-sun hues. NOAA also notes that the most memorable sunsets tend to be those with at least a few clouds.

Certain types of clouds are more linked with enhanced sunsets than others. Clouds catch the last red-orange rays of the setting sun and the first light of the dawn like a theatre screen, and reflect this light to the ground.

But if sunsets and sunrises are red, orange, yellow and pink, why is the sky normally blue?

Depiction of sunlight scattering. (22News Storm Team)

22News Storm Team Meteorologist Kelly Reardon explains: “Remember, sunlight is called white light, but it’s actually made up of all different colors. Think of sunlight shining through a prism and splitting up the red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet colors. Each color has a different wavelength, or size, if you will. 

“Our atmosphere is made up primarily of oxygen and nitrogen. Those are tiny gas molecules, and those small particles tend to scatter blue light more strongly than red. 

“However, during a sunset or sunrise, that light has to travel a much longer distance to your eye than it does when the sun is up above us. The longer the distance the light has to go, the more the blue and violet light is scattered by atmospheric aerosols due to their shorter wavelengths. Aerosols are tiny solid or liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere. That means as the distance increases, most of the light left unscattered is red, orange and yellow.”