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Overview         (For age - group : Above 16 )

Blue sky in the day but red at sunrise and sunsets. Explained through animation, on the basis of angle of the Sun, Rayleigh scattering, wavelengths of light, deflection of blue light. This educational animated physics topic gives in-depth information about the atmospheric phenomenon and is very useful for explaining to high school and college students.

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Duration (hr:min:sec) 0:8:0
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Blue Skies Red Sunsets:
Category :
Type : Animation

Length : 8 minutes

  • How atmosphere plays an active role in this color change ?
  • Rayleigh scattering (animated and in exp notes)
  • What happens when Sun is overhead?
  • What happens when the Sun is low in the evening ?
  • What is responsible for the blueness of the sky?

Explanatory Notes contain :

  • Why does Mars appears red?
  • Sky becomes red during after dust storms and volcanic eruptions?
  • Why are clouds white?

skies are blue in day but reddish at sunset
Skies are blue in day but reddish at sunset
red skies are due to dispersion and atmospheric refraction
Red skies are due to dispersion and atmospheric refraction
Details of the animation/ movie /software

Even though sunlight is white the sky on a sunny day looks blue. This is because sunlight entering the atmosphere bumps into air molecules and dust particles, which cause different wavelengths of light to split off in a process called scattering. The sky looks blue on a clear day because small atmospheric particles scatter short blue wavelengths more than the long red wavelengths. However, at sunrise or sunset, and especially when the air is dusty, the sky looks red. This is because the sun's light must travel through the atmosphere for a greater distance when it is near the horizon. The blue light is bent away from the eye altogether, while largest dust particles scatter red light to create a beautiful evening sky.

The sky is blue because tiny particles in the atmosphere (dust, clumps of air molecules, microscopic water droplets) are better at deflecting shorter wavelength blue light than they are at deflecting longer wavelength red light. As sunlight passes through the atmosphere, enough blue light is deflected (or more technically Rayleigh scattered) by these particles to give the atmosphere an overall blue glow. The sun itself is slightly reddened by this process because a fraction of its blue light is deflected away before it reaches our eyes. But at sunrise and sunset, sunlight enters our atmosphere at a shallow angle and travels a long distance before reaching our eyes. During this long passage, most of the blue light is deflected away and virtually all that we see coming to us from the sun is its red and orange wavelengths. The missing blue light illuminates the skies far to our east during sunrise and to our west during sunset

Ever wondered why
We sometimes get to witness spectacular sunsets?
Sky becomes red during after dust storms?
What is responsible for the blueness of the sky?
Why does Mars appears red?
What is Rayleigh scattering?
Why are clouds white?

Click below for the Answers to these questions and more on this topics

Besides the answers to above mentioned questions the animation also contains

  • Explanation based on atmospheric refraction and scattering
  • Detailed explanation of Rayleigh scattering

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