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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.

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Best Place to Watch the Sunset?

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

Random In The Forums

unicornsrule626
"angelover4" wrote:in my opinion when ur at a younger age like 7 8  9 or 10.....youd like homeschooling better but wn u start getting older up into ur teen yrs I think public or private school is better cuz it gives u more of a social life. And its just better that way. because I've been homeschooled since 3rd grade and I'm in 8th grade now,  I have a very small social life. I have done stuff like dance and cheerleading but still, I only have one good friend (actually she is AWESOME!)
reply about 8 hours
unicornsrule626
"rainbowpoptart" wrote:It depends on the person. Homeschooling may be better for this guy, but public school may be better for that one. Overall, neither is "better" than the other. They both have their ups and downs, coming from someone who has [technically] done both.All of the problems, of course, can be fixed. I'll use the two most common complaints I hear as examples.Homeschooling doesn't give you enough social interaction with real life people? Go outside. Ask your local school if you can participate in any extracurriculars.You don't think the curriculum in public school is flexible enough for you, but you don't want to convert to homeschooling? There are plenty of educational books, videos, and websites that are easily accessible online or from the library (seriously, Khan Academy and Crash Course saved my life, bless those men). nice! I have asked my local school but they refused because I'm not vaccinated (we don't believe in vaccines) but NY is one of the strictest  states for homeschool. we are moving and I might be able to go to high school but I could always stick with homeschool. With the social side, i have lots a lot of my social skills so now I'm really shy but i can work and fix that
reply about 8 hours
MarshmallowHeart
I'm 17, I joined Kidz World when I was 12! in just 3 months I'll be 18
reply about 8 hours
rainbowpoptart
It depends on the person. Homeschooling may be better for this guy, but public school may be better for that one. Overall, neither is "better" than the other. They both have their ups and downs, coming from someone who has [technically] done both. All of the problems, of course, can be fixed. I'll use the two most common complaints I hear as examples. Homeschooling doesn't give you enough social interaction with real life people? Go outside. Ask your local school if you can participate in any extracurriculars. You don't think the curriculum in public school is flexible enough for you, but you don't want to convert to homeschooling? There are plenty of educational books, videos, and websites that are easily accessible online or from the library (seriously, Khan Academy and Crash Course saved my life, bless those men).
reply about 8 hours
PunMaster
PunMaster posted in Say Anything:
("wow.. Maybe I can help you some time." PunMaster offered) he landed on a rock below, and Paperjam was about twenty ahead of him. "Great Job! Now let's go!" 
reply about 9 hours