Why is the Sun Red?

Why is the Sun Red today? What causes the Sun to be Red? Is a Red Sun Dangerous? What is the Red Sun called?
why is the sun red

The sun shines through the horizon lighting every creature’s life on Earth. Its essence and significance are embedded deep within various cultures and sciences across the globe and even beyond it. But imagine waking up to a sky and freaking out with the question, why is the sun red or why is the sun red today? There are many scientific explanations for it. So let’s start and find it out!

1. Why is the Sun Red today? Why was the Sun Red today? 

why is the sun red 1

Seeing a red sun during dawn and dusk hours is a sight to behold. But what if your sun appears reddish even during the daytime? Seeing a red sun at unusual hours can be pretty problematic for people. They might panic thinking of adverse scenarios. But if you see a red sun, don’t start hysterical thinking as to why is the sun red. It is a phenomenon totally based on scientific and climatic reasons. When the air is not clean and the atmosphere has a lot of dust particles or smoke, the sunlight sometimes appears red. (See What causes Double Rainbow?)

2. What Causes the Sun to Turn Red?

You all know that sunlight consists of 7 VIBGYOR colours viz violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Here violet has the shortest wavelength whereas red has the longest wavelength. When the atmosphere is filled with smoke and dust particles, the sunlight appears red as these particles scatter the light more and thus the light is obliged to travel via the longer wavelengths. The wildfires and the smoke are the primary reasons behind the red sun. (See What Would Happen if There was No Sunlight?)

3. What is a Red Sun called?

red sunflower

The phenomenon of the red sun, in general, is known as Rayleigh’s scattering. Whenever you are talking about the sun, you often associate it with sunflowers. In fact, a red sunflower is also called the Red Sun and biologically termed Helianthus annuus Red sun. (See How to Grow Purple Sunflowers?)

If you are a DC comics fan, you may also know that the red sun in Krypton is named after the sun god Ra of Egypt and is called Rao.

4. Is a Red Sun rare?

wildfire

You don’t need to panic thinking about why is the sun red. Simply relax as it is just a scientific natural occurrence that happens every few years.

  • On the 2nd of August 2020, Apple Fire in Southern California caused the sun and moon to appear red in three towns of Arizona, Kingman, Phoenix, and Payson.
  • The same kind of red sun was seen in California, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and Indiana when the western USA had wildfires in 2021.
  • It made a similar appearance in the year 2017 also.

So, the red sun isn’t particularly an odd occurrence, albeit rare. (Also read Does the Sun have Seasons?)

5. Why is the Sky Orange and Red at Sunrise and Sunset?

a prism scattering white light

The sunlight may appear white even though it is made up of different coloured lights travelling with different wavelengths. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere and it then reaches the earth. It is scattered by gases and water molecules present in the air.

Lights with longer wavelengths like red or yellow easily pass through the molecules but lights of shorter wavelengths like blue or violet are absorbed and scattered by gas molecules. Thus during the day, the light has to travel a lesser distance. The blue and violet lights are scattered during this short travel and our eyes being more receptive to the blue light makes us perceive the sky as blue. This happens due to Rayleigh’s scattering. 

During sunrise and sunset, the scenario is quite different. The sun is closer to the horizon. Thus, this long travelling distance and dense atmosphere cause the light to travel in longer wavelengths. This is why the sun appears orange and red. (See How many Colors are in the Rainbow?)

6. Why is the Sun White at Noon and Red during Sunrise and Sunset?

The sky is filled with microscopic particles that scatter the sunlight and also affect the way and colour of light you see. The sunlight is made up of 7 colours and these colours are arranged in the order of increasing wavelengths. During noon, the sun is present overhead and this causes the least amount of scattering in the sunlight. Hence, the sun appears white.

But during sunrise and sunset hours, the sun is present close to the horizon making the light travel longer distances. The light then travels through a longer wavelength and thus the sun appears red. Must read How to Describe the Sun in Creative Writing?

7. Why is Sunset more Reddish than Sunrise?

red sun at sunset

You must be thinking why is the sun red in the evening or redder than that of sunrise? The sun is present close to the horizon during sunset and as mentioned earlier that sunlight during sunset has to travel a longer distance. So with a longer wavelength, the sun appears redder during sunset. The same thing happens in the morning which defines a redder sunset.

At night, the dust particles in the atmosphere get settled once the atmosphere cools down. But during the evening, the dust particles get dispersed. The more dense the particles are, the redder the sun becomes. So the sun appears redder during sunset. Also, check out 11 Facts about Sunrise and Sunset.

8. What does seeing a Red Sun mean?

Well, the red sun means a lot of different things when viewed from different perspectives.

  • According to the spiritual view, a red sun is very ominous and is a death sign. It signifies the death of something within or someone around you.
  • It has a completely different meaning when seen from science’s perspective. It indicates good weather is on the way. It usually denotes high pressure and stable air coming from the west when the red sun is seen during sunsets and sunrises.
  • But it can also indicate high moisture or dust particles present in the atmosphere in case you see a red sun during the daytime. 

Now when you see a red sun instead of wondering why is the sun red, you can actually inform others of all the reasons and interesting facts related to it. (Also read How many Suns are in the Universe?)

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