red_sunrise

Red Sky In The Morning…

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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“Red sky in the morning… Sailors take warning!” How many of you have heard of that old phrase? Just look at this beautiful panorama of Cairns, Australia done by Joe Brimacombe – does it portend foul weather ahead or are such sayings a myth? Step inside and let’s find out…

In present time we recognize such beautiful clouds to be a reflection from the rising Sun, but in times past mankind relied on such fanciful wordsmithing to help them predict weather patterns crucial to farmers and sailors. Can the appearance of the sky and appearance of the clouds really foretell the atmospheric future? You just might be surprised…

Generally our weather moves in the opposite direction – west to east – from which our Earth turns. It’s carried along by the romantic westerly trade winds, meaning storm systems are more likely to arrive from the west. We know the brilliant and varied colors we see in the sky are caused by sunlight being refracted into almost all the colors of the spectrum as they pass through our atmosphere and bounce off the water vapor and fine particles present in Earth’s atmosphere. The amount, of which, are darn good indications of weather-to-be!

At both rise and set, the Sun is low on the horizon and the light coming through is penentrating the very thickest part of Earth’s atmosphere. When skies appear red, we know it carries a concentration of both moisture and dust particles. We perceive red because the longest wavelengths in the visible spectrum dictate it. The shorter blue wavelengths are dispersed. Therefore a red sunrise means the Sun is reflecting from dust particles and clouds that have passed from the west and a storm may be following in from the east. Watch for the skies themselves to change color, too… Because if they should appear a deep, brilliant red? That means there’s a high moisture content in the atmosphere and rain is usually on the way!

And now you know…

Many thanks to Dr. Joseph Brimacombe for sharing his awesome photo taken from Coral Towers Observatory, Cairns, Australia. You rock, Doc!


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Jon Hanford
Member
Jon Hanford
November 18, 2010 1:09 PM

“Red sky in the morning… Sailors take warning!”

followed by

Red sky at night….Sailors delight!

….Astronomers too.

Jon Hanford
Member
Jon Hanford
November 18, 2010 1:13 PM

Ooooh….more “Red Sky at Night”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_lore#Red_sky_at_night

nssian
Member
November 18, 2010 2:31 PM

A wonderful morning sky in the paradise that is my home town Cairns. No matter the colour of the sky, astronomy is a hard slog in Cairns. living in the wet tropics means, clouds, lots of em !

annanlad
Member
annanlad
November 18, 2010 5:43 PM

Red sky at night, shepherds delight
Red sky in the morning, the farm’s on fire

The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
Member
The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
November 18, 2010 7:29 PM

Don’t know how you guys have learnt this, but in AUstralia the story is more like;

“Red sky at morning, shepherd’s warning
Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight “

I’d guess there are not many sheep in the US as there is in Australia (or our friends in New Zealand)

Frankly the other versions are a bit doggy!

planet xxx
Member
planet xxx
November 19, 2010 1:32 AM

red sky at night, shepherd’s delight,
minced lamb and mashed potato, shepherd’s pie

Cosmic Super Ape
Member
Cosmic Super Ape
November 19, 2010 4:56 AM

I am confused. For one, isn’t the sky always redder at morning and evening due to Rayleigh scattering? So shouldn’t that mean sailors should delight every evening and take warning every morning?

Also in regards to “red sky at night sailors delight” I don’t see why sailors should be delighting if there’s high atmospheric moisture in the east, because that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s low atmospheric moisture in the west.

The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
Member
The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
November 19, 2010 8:57 AM
The actual words comes from a biblical quote; Matthew 16 1–3 (AV) The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. The English version ““Red sky at morning, shepherd’s warning Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight “” comes from; 17th Century, and was adopted later in America as a different version, likely… Read more »
Editor57
Member
Editor57
November 20, 2010 12:58 PM
First of all… did I miss something? the earth rotates west to east as does the weather in the northern hemisphere; in the southern it moves east to west. Secondly the red sky refers to the light fron the sun shinning on the clouds on the opposit horizon. Hence red sky in the morning means it is clear to the east and there are clouds to the west which in the mid-latitudes means weather approcaching. Res sky at evening means the storm has passed and the sun is shining on the clouds to the east. The description of the cause of the color seems to be correct but leaves out the refractive effect of the low angle of… Read more »
The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
Member
The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
November 20, 2010 8:39 PM

“…weather in the northern hemisphere; in the southern it moves east to west.”

Eh? In the southern hemisphere it most west to east too. What the hell are you taking about?

As for “in the Pacific the red sunrise may just mean another beutiful day of clear skies”; what evidence to you have to say this?

Also; “…effect of the low angle of the sun as it rises over a long unbroken reach of water.” What? It has nothing to do with the ocean, as it is an atmospheric effect. I.e. clouds and dust in the atmosphere.

Wow. So much supposition in one comment!

Editor57
Member
Editor57
November 21, 2010 11:06 AM
First of all Crumb you misses my first point; the earth rotates west to east… how could such a mistake be made in an astronomy post? Secondly you should check the link posted by Hanford. Storms rotated counter clockwise in the north and clockwise in the south. How do I know about the Pacific? I’ve sailed across it 4 times from San Diego to Cam Ranh Bay and yes I was driving 4 out of every 12 hours. the low angle of the sun effect the clouds and dust by its heating and cooling and has direct effect on the moisture over the ocean and over land, the dust in the air. Try watching some sunsets over the… Read more »
The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
Member
The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
November 22, 2010 2:21 AM
“First of all Crumb you misses my first point; the earth rotates west to east… how could such a mistake be made in an astronomy post?” No one commented on this point, the only statement I made was on; .“…weather in the northern hemisphere; in the southern it moves east to west.” This is so wrong, and I live in the southern hemisphere and I live near the ocean!!!!! Cold fronts move around the southern hemisphere from west to east; I.e Australia to New Zealand, South America, then southern Africa. I.e. See the animation Latest Colour Mean Sea Level Pressure Chart !! Which way are the cold fronts going? As for “Storms rotated counter clockwise in the north… Read more »
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