How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 367

Why isn't the sky bright blue when the sun is red?
During the day, the sky is blue because the air and dust in the air scatter mainly blue light toward your eyes. They also scatter some red light, but the blue light dominates. But at sunset, things change. The setting sun approaches the earth's atmosphere at a very shallow angle so that it must travel many kilometers through the air before reaching your eyes. During this long trip, most of the blue light is scattered away and the sun appears very red. If the path is long enough, the blue light is scattered away many kilometers to your west so that there isn't much of it left. When this occurs, even the sky around you appears somewhat reddish because there just isn't any more blue to scatter. The missing blue light is visible to people living 50 or 100 kilometers to the west as their blue sky.

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