If You Think the Sky Has Been More Red at Sunset, This is Why
It started with an observation then a question. Someone mentioned that they thought the sunset had been more red than usual lately. That led me on a quest to determine if there is something weird going on and if so, why?
I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. This video just got shared of a recent sunset in the Midwest. I think this happened in Minnesota.
Gorgeous, right? But, is it unusual? The answer is complicated. For the most part, no. But, there are several things that can happen to make the sunset red more often.
If you do a simple search for "why does the sky turn red at sunset?" (highly recommended, by the way), you'll be taken to several articles. One at Time and Date goes into the science about why you sometimes see red at sunset. Here's a brief snippet about why red sometimes becomes more prominent:
During sunsets and sunrises, when the Sun is closer to the horizon, sunlight has to travel through a longer distance and more of the dense environment to reach an observer’s eye. Due to Rayleigh scattering, most of the light of shorter wavelengths – the blue, violet, and green – are scattered away multiple times, leaving only lights of longer wavelength – the red, orange, and yellow – to pass straight through to the observer.
The good news is there will not be a pop quiz for this tomorrow.
Science Daily also has more on the color spectrum and why some colors are more common to see late in the day.
There is a phenomena that can make the sky more orange or red and that's sand from the Sahara Desert which gets blown up into the atmosphere and can remarkably travel all the way to the US over the ocean and affect what sunset looks like. It more often affects the east coast, but I have seen some of the sand reach as far west as our part of America.
Smoke from wildfires can also affect the atmosphere and give an eerie red glow to the sky. Gotta love nature.