Since our popular experiment “Why is the sky blue?”, many have been asking, “Why are sunsets red / orange in color?”
I’m so glad these people have asked such an excellent question, like all good scientists do!
So I came up with another experiment, but I wasn’t sure if it would succeed in demonstrating how the sky would turn from blue to red / orange. My daughter had much more confidence in me than I did and kept urging me to try it.
And she was right! See the video above for the amazing result.
Besides moving a flashlight around, sunset colors can also be created when white light travels for a long distance through a medium filled with small particles.
The following are two more ways you can create a homemade sunset.
What you need
- a rectangular clear glass container or a long clear drinking glass
- soap (preferably white, I used Kirk’s Castile soap. Milk powder will also work.)
- a flashlight that emits white light (I used TaoTronics LED light bulb)
- Fill the glass with water.
- Dissolve a little bit of soap in the water to get a cloudy solution.
- In a dark room, point the flashlight at the cloudy solution from one end of the container.
- Observe the solution to see a hint of blue color near the light. The solution’s color changes to yellow and then orange as you farther away from the light source.
Why Are Sunsets Red?
From the last experiment, we know that when light (representing the sun) passes through a clear fluid (representing air) holding small particles (representing dusts), blue is scattered more than most other colors.
That’s why when we look at the sky during the day, we can see a blue tint.
As the light travels through a longer distance (the sun is farther away during sunsets), since the blue has been scattered, only the yellow/orange colors are left (More scientific explanations).
More books and activities about the nature
This book is an amazing resource for fun things to do with kids.
It makes you notice all of the nature around us, and look at our natural world in a whole new way.