Alpenglow – Natural Phenomenon
Alpenglow is the optical phenomenon in which most of the peaks of the Dolomites take on a reddish color, which gradually changes to violet, especially at dawn and dusk.
This phenomenon is due to the composition of the rocky walls ( a mixture of carbonate and magnesium). It is especially seen in the summer evenings, when the air is very clear and the sun shining drops to the west.
The phenomenon can manifest itself significantly different throughout the year and can even vary from one day to the other. These variations in colors and durability of alpenglow , are due to the different positions of the sun during the year and the conditions of the atmosphere. The phenomenon occurs on the Dolomites, especially at dawn.
This effect occurs when the Sun is just below the horizon. Alpenglow is easiest to observe when mountains are illuminated but can also be observed when the sky is illuminated through backscattering.
Since the Sun is below the horizon, there is no direct path for the light to reach the mountain. Unlike sunset or sunrise, the light that causes alpenglow is reflected off airborne snow, water, or ice particles low in the atmosphere. These conditions differentiate between a normal sunrise or sunset and alpenglow.
The term alpenglow , which literally means “turning pink”, comes from the word Ladin Rosadura or Enrosadora. There is a legend of King Laurin, a dwarf king, who had the Rosengarten , a beautiful rose garden, and it offers an alternative explanation to the phenomenon and suggestive.
One day, the Prince of the Latimer, intrigued by the sight of roses, departed into the kingdom of King Laurin. There he saw the King’s daughter (Ladina), fell in love with her and kidnapped her to make her his bride. King Laurin desperately threw a curse on his rose garden, guilty of having betrayed the position of his kingdom : neither day nor night, no human eye could most admire. But, King Laurin forgot sunset when, even today, the garden and its colors become visible and appreciated.