When fall and winter make their way to the Gulf Coast, it’s what we call “sunset season.”

That’s because the sun sinking into the Gulf horizon creates some of the most vibrant sunsets of anywhere in the world.

We wondered why the sunsets on the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast are so beautiful in the latter part of the year, so we consulted several resources to learn the science behind the sunsets.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and as reported by the Mother Nature Network, the most eye-catching sunsets in the United States occur in fall and winter.

“Because air circulation is more sluggish during the summer, and because the photochemical reactions which result in the formation of smog and haze proceed most rapidly at that time of the year, late fall and winter are the most favored times for sunrise and sunset viewing over most of the United States. Pollution climatology also largely explains why the deserts and tropics are noted for their twilight hues: air pollution in these regions is, by comparison, minimal.”

Also a factor in the beautiful sunsets is the phenomenon of “scattering.”

Blue light has a short wavelength and thus is scattered easiest by air molecules like nitrogen and oxygen. Longer wavelength lights, such as red and oranges, are not scattered as much by air molecules.

The Weather Channel says that during sunrise and sunset “light from the sun must pass through much more of the atmosphere before it reaches our eyes, meaning that the sunlight comes into contact with even more molecules in the air. Much of the blue light gets scattered away, making the reds and oranges more pronounced.”

In fall and winter, weather patterns are drier, with clean Canadian air sweeping across the country and more colors of the spectrum making it through to our eyes without scattering in the air.

We tip our hat to Mother Nature, the drier fall and winter weather patterns, and the lack of pollution in the area that give the Gulf Coast some of the most brilliant sunsets you’ll ever experience.

Choose a Gulf-front vacation rental as your sunset season headquarters. Relax or dine on your private balcony or deck as you watch the sun slowly sink into the Gulf horizon. Or, choose a waterfront vacation rental to see the sunrise and sunset from a different vantage point.