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The Urban Astronomer

Amazing Sunset and Sunrise Colors

1 Nov 2014, 01:36 UTC
Amazing Sunset and Sunrise Colors
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Every sunrise and sunset provides a wide range of visual effects, ranging from the elongation of the disk of the Sun as it hugs the horizon, to the amazing range of colors you see in the minutes before and after the Sun’s passage through the horizon. One of my favorite effects is the curious coloration of the opposite horizon from the sunrise or sunset where one sees a colorful and rapidly changing band of sky called the Belt of Venus. Belt of Venus at 35,000 FeetDespite the name, the effect does not have anything to do with Venus the planet. Rather, the effect is due entirely to the shadow cast by the Earth into space, and our perception of that shadow as we observe the horizon from our vantage point along the Earth’s terminator. As we gradually rotate out of the darkness of night (at sunrise) or into the darkness (at sunset), we have a short-term view into the shadow of Earth which occupies the opposite horizon from the Sun. The colors are quite vivid with dark blue low along the horizon, and the refracted colors of the sunrise or sunset above that, creating a layered effect of blue and ...

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