Spectacular sunset caused by a combination of factors
photo credit Calvert Jones
September 25, 2018
Spectacular sunset caused by a combination of factors

The bright orange hues that streaked across the skies at sunset on Sunday had many persons grabbing their smartphones and digital cameras to document the breathtaking moment.

The phenomenon which was captured and posted on various social media platforms is called crepuscular rays, which means ‘related to twilight’.

The rays, though seeming to diverge from the sun, are actually parallel rays of light.

And Billy Jeffers, the manager of the meteorological service at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that the phenomenon could be a result of two things: high level clouds and sahara dust haze particles.

“Based on the phenomenon that we would have experienced, it would be a result of what we call scattering. This basically occurs because of the light of the sun going through particles or molecules in the atmosphere,” he said.

Jeffers explained that there were stratocumulus clouds present in the atmosphere on Sunday. These clouds are usually present below 6,500 feet and are not as common as cumulus clouds.

And when these clouds are present, the crepuscular effect usually occurs around sunset when the rays from the sun interact with the ice crystals formed by the clouds in the atmosphere.

The manager of the meteorological service also said that sahara dust haze particles were also present in the atmosphere, which could have also contributed to the occurrence.

“…because of the bending of the light and the wave length in which … humans see, that determines the colour of it,” he said.