Kw-logo-smaller

How Sunsets Work

At one time or another, all of us have stopped to stare at a beautiful sunset with its red and orange colors. You can take in a colorful sunset anywhere you go, but some parts of the world, like deserts and tropics, are well known for their splashy palette of colors. Why is it that the sky looks like it's bleeding when the sun goes down? And why are some parts of the world more colorful than others?

The Colors of the Sun

As the sun sets, the light must travel through more of the atmosphere before the rays get to you. By more atmosphere, that means more molecules which scatter the blue and violet light. (Think of it like a glass of water - at mid-day, the light is refracting through the center of the glass of water. With a sunset, the sun is refracting across the surface of the glass of water). If the path is long enough, the blue and violet lights go further than our eye can see. This leaves the pink, orange and red colors for us to look at. So that's why sunsets are usually pink, orange and red.

Sunsets and Pollution

The most beautiful sunsets happen when the air has small particles of dust or water, like after a volcanic eruption. These particles reflect light in all directions, resulting in more reds and yellows, and less pinks. The more particles in the air, the more the light is scattered. Cities with high pollution have great sunsets cuz more light bounces around. If the air is very dry and clean, like in the Arctic, the sky near the horizon will stay blue and the sun will be bright orange.

Seeing Green

Have you heard something about green flashes? Just because you've never seen one doesn't mean they aren't real. They really do happen! A green flash can be seen when part of the sun suddenly changes color (at sunset and sunrise). The green doesn't flash - it just means the color is sudden and brief (about a second or two). If you're running out to watch the next sunset for a glimpse of green, there are a few things to consider. Location is really important, you'll need help to see it (binoculars, magnifying glass, etc. will do) and really clean air is crucial. Remember - you shouldn't stare directly at the sun, unless it's almost below the horizon.

Related Stories:
7 Comments

latest videos

F1123022164031

Best Place to Watch the Sunset?

  • The beach.
  • My back porch.
  • On top of a mountain.
  • Drive out to the desert.

related stories

Micro_famouseuropeanbeaches-micro
Travelling to Europe to see its famous monuments, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Colosseu...
Micro_sunglasses-micro
We know you want to look chic in your sunglasses this summer. Consider this your go-to guide on h...
Micro_sun-facts-micro
We all enjoy the sun in the summer, but how much do you really know about that ball of fire in th...
Micro_sun-micro
Did you know it takes light only 8 minutes to travel from the Sun to the Earth - but 176 years to...

Random in the forums

HannahG
HannahG posted in Food:
"Kirsteeeeen" wrote:Tired of being told pizza is unhealthy?Try pizza on flatbread, pita bread, or even rice cakes.Best of both worlds.  :angelRICE CAKES?! Why haven't I ever thought of that?
reply 8 minutes
Abbygirl 9
Abbygirl 9 posted in General:
"Kirsteeeeen" wrote:"alienincognito" wrote:Don't talk to anyone unless you're spoken to, try to stay out of the limelight, the teachers are the enemy but can have nice moments. No matter how fancy a school is, there will be behaviour problems. Homework can be left to the last minute depending on how tactile you are, after the first few months you'll want to disappear unless you become popular but hang in there! Also, there are three types of people at Middle School or Secondary School:The cacti-The cacti are people who seem hard on the outside [we all have to be in Middle School] but are really lovely and soft if you get to know them. Some cacti can be pricks [no pun intended] but most are nice enough people so a cacti is probably an ideal friend at Middle School.The rocks-AVOID AT ALL COSTS! These are the people who are completely tough and are often bullies. It often seems like they have no emotions because they don't. They are sociopaths and must be avoided. But they are often popular jock kids.The marshmallows-These guys are pretty good, they're soft all the way through and get along well with most people and mostly abide by the rules. They can be hurt easily and roasted because they're so soft. Marshmallows are often smart and get along well with teachers as a result. The only flaw with marshmallows is that some have the tendency to rub their good grades in your face and make you feel insecure but they're nice people mostly.Oh and we can also get cacti rocks and spiky marshmallows.Hope I helped  Teachers are never the enemy!! They're there to help you. They can be a very valuable resource and it is so very important to collaborate with them to make the most of your learning experience!  If you put off a cold attitude and don't speak to people, they're more than likely going to assume you're stuck up and that can make the experience a lot worse than it has to be. Smile, be kind, and if there's someone picking on you, tell a teacher or other staff member, and try to stay out of their path. (I know from experience being an "outsider", it's better not to make yourself a quiet target). im nervous about starting high school.  middle school was alot of fun but you do get alot of classwork and homework. i couldnt have said it any better like you did kirsteeeen.   [s:p/zxl]
reply 9 minutes
Kirsteeeeen
Kirsteeeeen posted in New Users:
Welcome to KW! :D
reply 11 minutes
Kirsteeeeen
Kirsteeeeen posted in Food:
Tired of being told pizza is unhealthy? Try pizza on flatbread, pita bread, or even rice cakes. Best of both worlds.  :angel
reply 12 minutes
Kirsteeeeen
Kirsteeeeen posted in Debating:
Doctors might be the more ethical choice, but honestly I think a lot of celebrities do deserve high salaries considering the scrutiny, lack of privacy, and judgement they go through. They're human too, and their lives are turned upside down once they become part of the spotlight.  Both are respectable careers, in their own ways, and I think that certain positions in the medical profession should get a raise.
reply 13 minutes

play online games