Think the sun looks strangely red? It does and here's why

( - If you glanced up Monday or Tuesday, you may have noticed the sun was a glowing red orb in the sky, far ruddier than its usual beams.

That's thanks to the wildfires in northern Montana and southwestern Canada and the winds blowing from the northwest, explains Andrew White, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.

"Some of the smoke has been drifting in from the northwest, drifting in from the atmosphere," he said.  

Comprised of the colors of the rainbow, the sun takes on different tints depending on what's up in the atmosphere, according to the Earth System Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

When particles, such as smoke or dust, fill the atmosphere, the longer wavelengths of light — which look red — scatter more effectively. If the air is cleaner, there are more air molecules, which scatter shorter wavelengths or light, or blue light, more effectively. (Think clear blue sky.)

Right now the wind is from the northwest, bringing with it some residual smoke, White said.

With a forecast calling for the wind not to shift until Wednesday, the sun will likely retain its flushed appearance into Thursday when winds will die down, White said.

Call IndyStar staff reporter Shari Rudavsky at (317) 444-6354. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.


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