Why is The Sun Red at Sunrise and Sunset?

Dispersion of Light

Dispersion of Light

Surely you often see the color of the Sun at the time of sunrise and sunset are orange to red colored. In addition, the shape of the Sun appear larger than usual. Why is this so? The following is an explain for that questions.

The light of the sun translated by our eyes as color white. The white color is the polychromatic color which means composed of various color blends in and appears as a white color. This can be proven when you see a rainbow, which actually is a sunlight dispersed by a grain of rain drops. You can also read this article for detail: How A Rainbow is Formed? Well, the colors in the rainbow is white color that decomposed to a lot of color. Then why you often see the sun is yellow, orange, or red, at the time of sunrise or sunset?

At the time of sunrise and sunset, the sky portion is red, and some portion is blue. This phenomenon can be explained on the basis of the scattering of light by molecules in the atmosphere.

As is known, the rainbow is composed of color: red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet — known as the spectrum of light. The spectrum blue-indigo-violet is on the short wavelength of spectrum of light. The spectrum of light at short wavelengths easily been scattered, compared to red-orange-yellow, which is at longer wavelengths.

As a result, when the sunrises or sunsets, or when the sun is closer to the horizon, the sun’s light toward the eyes of people who see it will go through the longer lines in medium Earth’s atmosphere, scattering process is so much happened. The colors have a shorter wavelength will be obstructed so that the look is light spectrum with a longer wavelength. The result of that process, the more sun is setting, the sun would appear to be the more red color.

But, when the sun was in the top of the head, or when the path of light through the medium of the Earth’s atmosphere is shorter, more dispersed light is blue light than other colors, the sky is blue as a result of the process of scattering of light by the Earth’s atmosphere, while the sun would look white-yellowish. You can read this article for detail: Why The Sky is Blue?



sunrise is the daily appearance of the sun in the morning


sunset is the time in the evening at which the sun begins to fall below the horizon


polychromatic means composed of more than one wavelength


disperse means move away from each other


decompose means to break down or decay, like tree leaves that decompose into dirt, or cell phone batteries that decompose, resulting in more frequent charging for the user.


phenomenon is an extraordinary occurrence or circumstance


molecules is the simplest structural unit of a substance that still keeps the properties of that substance.


atmosphere is the mass of air surrounding the Earth


spectrum is an ordered array of the components of an emission or wave


horizon is the line at which the sky and Earth appear to meet.


obstructed is shut off to passage or view or hindered from action.


path is an established line of travel or access.

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