What Causes Different Colors to Appear in the Sky

What Causes Different Colors to Appear in the Sky

Why Is the Sky Blue?

Click in a higher place to lookout man this video about why the sky is blue! Voiceover provided by NASA scientist Dr. Moogega Stricker.

Information technology’south easy to come across that the heaven is blue. Accept you ever wondered why?

A lot of other smart people have, too. And information technology took a long time to effigy it out!

blue sky and clouds illustration

The low-cal from the Sun looks white. But it is really made upward of all the colors of the rainbow.

A prism separates white light into the colors of the rainbow.

When white calorie-free shines through a prism, the light is separated into all its colors. A prism is a specially shaped crystal.

If you visited The State of the Magic Windows, you learned that the light you see is just one tiny bit of all the kinds of light energy beaming effectually the universe–and effectually you lot!

Similar free energy passing through the ocean, low-cal energy travels in waves, besides. Some light travels in brusque, “inclement” waves. Other light travels in long, lazy waves. Blueish calorie-free waves are shorter than red lite waves.

Different colors of light have different wavelengths.

All low-cal travels in a straight line unless something gets in the way and does one of these things:—

  • reflect it (like a mirror)

  • bend it (like a prism)

  • or scatter information technology (like
    of the gases in the atmosphere)

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Sunlight reaches World’south atmosphere and is
in all directions past all the gases and particles in the air. Blueish lite is scattered in all directions by the tiny molecules of air in World’s atmosphere. Bluish is scattered more than other colors because it travels as shorter, smaller waves. This is why we run across a blue sky most of the time.

Atmosphere scatters blue light more than other colors.

Closer to the horizon, the sky fades to a lighter blue or white. The sunlight reaching united states from low in the heaven has passed through even more than air than the sunlight reaching united states from overhead. As the sunlight has passed through all this air, the air molecules accept


the blue lite
many times
many directions.

Atmosphere scatters blue light more than other colors

Also, the surface of Earth has
the light. All this scattering mixes the colors together again so we see more white and less blue.

What makes a cerise dusk?

As the Sun gets lower in the heaven, its light is passing through more of the atmosphere to reach you. Even more of the blueish light is scattered, allowing the reds and yellows to pass straight through to your optics.

Red sky at sunset

Red Sun at sunset.

Sometimes the whole western heaven seems to glow. The sky appears red because small particles of grit, pollution, or other aerosols also scatter blue light, leaving more purely cerise and yellow light to go through the atmosphere.

Is the sky blueish on other planets, besides?

Information technology all depends on what’due south in the atmosphere! For case, Mars has a very thin atmosphere made generally of carbon dioxide and filled with fine grit particles. These fine particles scatter light differently than the gases and particles in Earth’s atmosphere.

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Photos from NASA’due south rovers and landers on Mars take shown us that at sunset in that location is really the opposite of what you’d feel on Earth. During the daytime, the Martian heaven takes on an orangish or reddish color. But as the Sun sets, the heaven around the Sun begins to have on a blue-gray tone.

The orange-colored Martian sky during the daytime.
The blue-tinted Martian sky at sunset.

The acme image shows the orange-colored Martian sky during the daytime and the bottom image shows the blue-tinted sky at sunset. Both images were captured by NASA’south Mars Pathfinder Lander. Credit: NASA/JPL

Related Resources for Educators

Our World: Sunsets and Atmospheres

article last updated June 22, 2022

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What Causes Different Colors to Appear in the Sky

Source: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/blue-sky/en/