Why the Sky Creates Beautiful Colors at Sunsets and Sunrises


Ann-Sophie Qvarnström

Red and blue sunset in Tuntorp, Brastad, Lysekil Municipality, Sweden.

Kellie Hastrup, Journalism Class Reporter & Staff Editor


Have you ever wondered why most sunsets and sunrises are so gorgeous?  Why are sunsets and sunrises filled with beautiful colors?

First off, during sunsets and sunrises, scattering or Rayleigh scattering occurs. Scattering is when molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere move or scatter color waves.

Did you know that there’s actually purple in the sky during daylight? But we can’t see it because purple/violet waves move quicker than any other color. Plus we humans can only see a certain part of the rainbow.

In addition to purple waves, every other color of the rainbow is inside our atmosphere. We just can’t see them because the waves don’t reach our eyes all the time like how blue and purple waves do.

When the sun is at the horizon, it passes through more air. Low humidity and cleaner air causes heavier and prettier sunsets which is why autumn and winter have some of the best sunsets. Red also has the longest wavelength.

That’s why you see colorful sunsets and sunrises all the time.