Red sky in the afternoon

You probably have heard the sailor’s expression “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning”. But what about a red sky in the afternoon? Before we left for Vasona park on Tuesday, I noticed that the sun was very red and it actually made a red square on my living room floor.

I did some research and found that the colors we see in the sky are due to the rays of sunlight being split into colors of the spectrum as they pass through the atmosphere and ricochet off the water vapor and particles in the atmosphere. The amounts of water vapor and dust particles in the atmosphere are good indicators of weather conditions. They also determine which colors we will see in the sky.

During sunrise and sunset the sun is low in the sky, and it transmits light through the thickest part of the atmosphere. A red sky suggests an atmosphere loaded with dust and moisture particles. We see the red, because red wavelengths (the longest in the color spectrum) are breaking through the atmosphere. The shorter wavelengths, such as blue, are scattered and broken up.

In our case, the particles in the air were smoke and dust so thick that everything outside had a sepia tone. It felt very weird, sort of like living inside a 100 year old photograph. By the time the sun’s shining rays hit our floor, they had turned a deep blood red. Hmm, looking back now it seems like a warning of things to come….

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