(Green Pond, AL)
I’ve received lots of emails about the colorful sky that we witnessed Friday afternoon. Most viewers have described a dark red and orange colored sky over the horizon. These colorful scenes are caused by the scattering of light. This scattering of light is linked to the colorful sunrises and sunsets we witness on clear dry days. It is also the reason our sky is blue.
So if you wondering what object is scattering the sunlight, its actually the small targets suspended in the atmosphere. The light produced by our sun produces a visible spectrum of different colors, blues, greens, and reds. Blue colors are associated with the shorter wavelengths on this visible spectrum while reds are associated with the longer wavelengths. When the suns light strikes the tiniest molecules in our atmosphere (air molecules) the short blue wavelengths are scattered more effectively, producing the blue sky we see on a daily basis. This scattering is known as Rayleigh Scattering after British Physicist Lord Rayleigh. In the late afternoon the light has to travel further through our atmosphere resulting in more scattering of light and we are left with the beautiful yellow and red colors. This is also the reason a full moon may appear red when it is low on the horizon.
There is another type of scattering named after German physicist Gustav Mie. When light interacts with particles larger than the wavelengths in the visible spectrum the result is a white color. This scattering is associated with particles like water droplets and dust. It is also the reason clouds are white and the reason for hazy conditions on humid summer days in Alabama. Both types of scattering are not exclusive but often occur together to provide colorful scenes like the one witnessed on Friday. If you capture a colorful sunrise or sunset pic please share. There are several ways you can submit your pictures. You can email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, through our free Fox 6 Weather App, or you can share them via facebook or twitter.
Fox6 Meteorologist Wes Wyatt