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Question:
What causes the sunrise and sunset to have so many colors?



Replies:
When the sun is directly overhead, the sunlight has to only pass through a few miles worth of thick atmosphere. But when the sun is close to the horizon (at sunrise or sunset) the light goes a much longer distance through the atmosphere. This causes attenuation of the shorter wavelengths (blue - this is why the sky is blue at other times of the day) leaving only the longer wavelengths like orange and red to reach us. Having clouds in the sky and a variety of other atmospheric effects also contributes to the play of colors.

Arthur Smith



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