It’s the daily ritual that signifies the beginning and end of our day and we often relish in its beauty.. but what makes the sun those golden colors in the sky when it’s on the horizon?
It all comes down to what our eyes can perceive. When the sun is high in the sky, we see bright blue. When the sun is on the horizon, we get colors in the sky that we can never see at any other point in the day except dusk and dawn.
You may think pure light is white but it’s actually every color imaginable. That light moves through our atmosphere and is dispersed like a prism. The gaseous particles in our atmosphere scatter the light and make it visible.
All of those colors have a different wavelength. Blues are the shortest and oranges and reds are the longest. The longer the wavelength, the less they scatter through the atmosphere. The shorter, the easier they are the scatter.
So when the sun is in the sky, you see blue. This is because the light isn’t traveling through as much atmosphere. It’s being scattered easier through the gaseous particles in the air and reaches our eyes easier on the ground. All of the other colors are there but aren’t scattered so we can’t see them.
But when the sun sets, the light travels through much more atmosphere. The blue light is completely scattered out and the longer wavelengths like oranges and reds make it through the atmosphere and to our eye.
This is what gives us the amazing sunrises and sunsets we universally know and love. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world or what climate you live in. This same principle applies.