Why Does The Sky Turn Colors During Sunset?

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By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - When the sun is low in the horizon, the sunlight has to travel through more particles in the atmosphere.

You see sunlight as white, but it's made up as a combination of the colors of the spectrum.

Those particles will tend to scatter away the blue and green light part of the sunlight's spectrum, leaving behind the more-difficult-to-scatter red and

orange colors. That's because red and orange lights has a longer wavelength than the blue and greens, making it less affected by particles.

Pollution, ash or smoke can enhance the colors as there's more particles to scatter away the shorter-wavelength part of the spectrum.

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Evening rainbow from Queen Anne using fisheye lens, 17 April 2014
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A large rainbow formed over the ferry Wenatchee while headed from Bainbridge Island to Seattle.