Light Scattering: Blocking Stars and Light Curtains

During the day, the sky appears as a deep blue. Arguably, this is because of the scattering of light by air in the same way that a prism separates the spectrum from visible light to a splash of colour on a nearby wall.

This sort of bending might also explain the different colours at sunset and sunrise, rather than just angry, approaching weather. Some argue that the sky is blue because it reflects the ocean, and, in turn, the ocean is blue because it reflects the sky, and I tend to agree with all points based on light scattering.

Light polution from cities scatters its colours into the sky, even for several miles, and tends to appear as a lingering yellow smog. This is powerful enough to taint the black of the night sky enough to blot out the stars.

In the north, one may be lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights), or, in the south, the Aurora Australis. Characterised by a searing series of silent curtains of light, this phenomenon has been both sought and feared. There are certain tribes native to North America that will not look at it, as it is thought to be a haunting or ill omen.

How it Works
The mechanics of the wonder are related to magnetism and our atmosphere. Objects that enter the Earth’s atmosphere, which has the job of breaking down particles entering, possess a magnetosphere, which is the magnetic field of the object around it. Because of the strong magnetism, the objects are, in turn, pulled toward the poles. Upon entering, the magnetic field meets with the gasses of Earth’s atmosphere, and it suddenly becomes energised, and suddenly that very energy is emitted as light, as Fluorescence. Light emitted during all of this tends to be rich with oxygen, resulting in a greenish-yellow colour over all. At lower altitudes, the objects still falling appear as red. If the in-coming object has any sort of nitrogen composition, it will burn as blue or purple.

What colour would you rather the sky be? Have you ever experimented with prisms and the visible spectrum? Have you seen an aurora?

Author: ruecian