Not blue at all. Scientists reveal the real color of the earth's sky

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Not blue at all. Scientists told what is the true color of the earth's sky

Researchers note that things are a little more complicated and if we peer into the darkness of the night, we will see the real color of the sky.

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Looking up at the sunniest bright day, what do we see? It would seem that the answer is simple – a bright blue sky. But what do we actually see – blue nitrogen or blue oxygen? In fact, all we see is scattered sunlight, writes Science Alert.

To help figure out what the true color of the Earth's sky really is, Monash University astronomy professor Michael J. Brown and astronomy professor from Leiden University Matthew Keworthy.

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It is known that the Sun emits a wide spectrum of visible light, which we perceive as white, but in fact it includes all the colors of the rainbow. When sunlight passes through air, the atoms and molecules in the atmosphere scatter blue light in all directions, much more strongly than red light. This process is called Rayleigh scattering, which is what makes the white sun and blue sky visible on clear days.

At sunset, this effect is enhanced because the sunlight needs to travel through more air to reach us. However, when the Sun is as close to the horizon as possible, almost all of the blue light is scattered, resulting in a red Sun with bluer colors around it. However, if all we see during the day is diffused sunlight, then what is the true color of the earth's sky? Astronomers advise to look at it at night.

Looking at the night sky, we can see that it is clearly dark, but not perfectly black – yes, there is visible starlight, but the sky itself is also luminous. Scientists note that this is not light pollution at all, but rather a natural glow of the atmosphere.

Astronomers note that this glow is called airglow and is formed by atoms and molecules in the atmosphere. In visible light, oxygen gives green red light, hydroxyl molecules are red, sodium is yellow, and nitrogen, despite its amount in the air, does not contribute to a strong glow of the air.

Different colors of the glow are due to the fact that atoms and molecules release a certain amount of energy in the form of light. For example, at high altitudes, ultraviolet light is able to split oxygen molecules into pairs of oxygen atoms, and when these atoms later recombine into molecules, they produce a pronounced green light.

It is curious that sodium atoms make up only a tiny part of our atmosphere, but they cause most of its glow and have a very unusual origin – shooting “stars”.

If we look at the night sky on any clear day and wait a bit, we will definitely be able to observe these tiny meteors formed by dust particles heating up and evaporating in the upper layers of our atmosphere. When falling “stars” streak across the sky at about 11 kilometers per second at an altitude of about 100 kilometers, they leave behind a trail of atoms and molecules. As a result, we can see shooting “stars” with different colors, depending on the atoms and molecules they contain, including a small amount of sodium, and very bright meteors can even leave visible traces of smoke.

Summarizing all of the above, we can say with confidence that the earthly sky is not blue at all, at least not always. The night sky is colored with a mixture of green, yellow and red, which are the result of scattered sunlight, oxygen and sodium from falling “stars”.