- Have you, like thousands of other Britons today looked up to notice something different about the sun and sky? Have you asked yourself why the sky was red today? Many people from numerous areas in the UK have posted photographs of the phenomenon that show a blood-red coloured sun surrounded by a dark sky. The cause of this fascinating sight is the movement of
- . The southerly winds that have resulted in a rise in temperature have also brought dust from the Sahara Desert and smoke from the Iberian wildfires to UK latitudes.
Red sky seen from East Sussex, London
Sepia Skies seen in Central London
- It is believed that Hurricane Ophelia began in Azores and has continued to travel northwards, where it picked up the Saharan dust on the way. The dust has been found on cars and windowsills throughout the country. The science behind the cause of the red hue to the Sun and sky is that the dust has caused the wavelength of blue light to be shattered, allowed more red light to be visible. This has occurred because the dust particles are extremely high up in the atmosphere, and therefore obscures our view of the Sun by blocking the visible blue light.
What is Blue Light
- Unsure of what blue light is? As displayed in the image below, light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves (which are represented in different colours), which together make the electromagnetic spectrum. Each wave is a different length and the shorter the length, the greater the energy. Within the ‘visible light’ area of the spectrum, blue light has the shortest wavelength, meaning that it produces a very high amount of energy, which is the reason it can be so harmful to your eyes and health (although blue light from the Sun is good for you).
Blue Light Spectrum Diagram
- Although this may be the first time you have heard of the electromagnetic spectrum changing the colour of the Sun, it is the reason for which the sky is blue and sunsets are red! The reason that the sky appears blue, is that the gas molecules which make up the atmosphere scatter the blue light from the Sun in all directions, which creates the effect of blue. Consequently, red light waves are scattered the least by the gas molecules, so when the sunlight must travel a longer way at Sunrise and Sunset, most blue light has been removed, leaving an orange light. Therefore, polluted skies are often visible to the human eye, as the particles change the visibility of the blue light from the sun.
- As discussed in a previous
- , this isn’t the first time that there has been confusion following a change in the amount of visible blue light. When Apple originally introduced their ‘night-mode’ to allow users to block blue light, there was a frenzy regarding the orange tinge that was left on screens. This orange hue occurs when you switch a smartphone to night-mode as because the blue light spectrum has been removed from your display. Whereas, physical filters such as Ocushield do not make your screen appear orange as the material used absorbs the blue light rather than altering the light emitted. Furthermore, other rare phenomenon’s such as a Blue Moon have also been known to cause a stir amongst onlookers. Blue Moons are also commonly caused by smoke or dust particles in the sky which alter the amount of red light and appear to change the colour of the moon.
A Storm Brewing
- After the cause of the red Sun was revealed, many individuals have expressed concern regarding how safe the air is if it currently contains enough dust to change the colour of the Sun. However, the Met Office have confirmed that the air is safe to breathe due to the height of the dust particles. In terms of the effects of Hurricane Ophelia, Ireland have had to face some catastrophic damage that has resulted in all schools remaining shut for two days and an astounding 350,000 homes and businesses being left without power. Sadly, the storm has taken the lives of three individuals due to the upheaval of trees which fell onto cars.
- The storm’s wind was recorded at 109mph in Southern Ireland and is currently continuing up the west coast of Ireland as it makes its way North towards Scotland. Unfortunately, it is expected that there is more destruction to come as the Met Office predict that winds will reach up to 93mph.
Therefore, it is recommended that citizens of both Scotland and Ireland follow the advice below:1. Remove any loose items from the garden to prevent debris from smashing windows.
2. Try to remain indoors until the storm subsides.
3. Particularly avoid coastal areas.
4. If you are required to travel, drive much slower to ensure you are prepared to stop for trees that have fallen in the road.
5. Ensure windows are closed during the storm.
6. Park vehicles in the garage (if possible).
7. Do not try to go outside to repair damage from the storm whilst it is still ongoing.
8. After the storm, do not touch any electrical cables that have been blown down.
9 After the storm, do not walk as close to walls and trees as they may have been weakened.
We hope we have answered why the sky was red - don’t forget to follow these tips to stay safe from Ophelia! Please feel free to share red sun, dark sky and Ophelia aftermath images in the comments below. Learn more about blue light here.