PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Sunsets in our area can be absolutely beautiful.
What if I told you that a bunch of dust is going to blow from the Sahara Desert, across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caribbean, up the Gulf of Mexico and into our area, and this could make our sunsets even more beautiful?
While that may sound ridiculous, it is true!
Dust has been blowing from the Sahara Desert into the Caribbean, into the southern United States, and it is on the way here.
It is important to note, though, this isn’t a big dust storm, and it’s not unusual.
It happens about once a year.
So, how does this make sunsets even more beautiful?
Let’s first talk about how sunsets become beautiful all on their own.
During the middle of the day, sunlight has less atmosphere to travel through to make it to us.
That means there is less atmosphere to filter out parts of the sunlight that reaches our planet as white light, which means it is made up of all the colors.
Each color has a different wavelength.
During the middle of the day, the light coming into the atmosphere encounters the main components of the atmosphere, nitrogen and oxygen.
Since these small particles are great at scattering blue wavelengths, the sky appears blue.
Now at sunset, that same light has a lot more atmosphere to get through, so by the time that light reaches us, most of the blues have been scattered out air and dust particles, leaving the reds behind.
This means more dirt equals more vibrant reds and oranges in your sunset!
If you want to do an experiment to show this, it is simple.
All you need is a clear glass of water, white paper, a small splash of milk and some sunshine.
Set the glass of water on the paper, so you can see the sunlight shine through.
Add an extremely small splash of milk to the glass.
You will start to see the sunlight on the paper become more orange.
If you keep adding extremely small splashes of milk, you will notice the sunlight becoming more red.
You can even hold the milky water next to a glass of clear water and see the differences.
NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN, though.
More milk means more blue and violet light is scattered out, allowing only the reds and oranges to pass through.
I know we live in an area that can struggle to get sunshine, but no sunshine, no problem.
Use a flashlight instead of sunshine.
You can even shine the light through the glass onto a white wall or paper behind it!