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Why Is The Sky Blue? – ‘The Why’

Welcome to the latest edition of The Why.

Everywhere you look the media is pushing you telling you who to follow, what to watch and when to watch it.   You’re even sometimes told how to do it all.  Truth is, here at American Live Wire we do a bit of that too.  The big difference is we also tell you why.

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

“Why is the sky blue?”

“Why is the sky blue?” you ask?

This question has been asked so many times that surprisingly even online sources—the University of California, Why Is The Sky Blue (clever name), Science Made Simple, etc.—all agree on the answer.  (Amazing, isn’t it?)  Mind you, they have had plenty of time to reach a consensus.  After all, people have been researching this at least as far back as Sir Isaac Newton who employed a prism to separate the different colors and so formed a spectrum.

why is the sky blue

“Why is the sky blue?”

First off, no, the sky is not always blue but for the sake of answering the question let’s assume it’s a clear sunny day.  You know, the kind that’s so beautiful even this column won’t keep you from putting away the electronics and doing something even more enjoyable than being on ALW.  The sun is shining, your choice of deity is in his/her/its heaven, all is right with the world and the sky is the perfect shade of blue.  The stage is set.

The scientific term for why the sky is blue is called Rayleigh scattering.  Transmitted light (from any source—fire, light bulbs, the sun and so forth—is made up of a broad spectrum of colors.  The longest wavelengths of light sit on the red end of the light spectrum and the shortest wavelengths are located on the blue-violet end.   As the light moves through our atmosphere, the majority of the longer wavelengths go right through.  Most of the orange, red and yellow light is not influenced by the air.

why is the sky blue

Blue Sky

When transmitted light—in this case sunlight—comes into the atmosphere it strikes the nitrogen and oxygen atoms there.  Colors with shorter wavelengths are scattered more by the impact.  Since blue has a shorter wavelength the sky takes on a blue-violet appearance.

Human eyes have thousands of cones and rods which work as light receptors but the truth is they are significantly more sensitive to blue as opposed to violet light so we see the sky as blue.  Since blue is one of the primary colors it is more easily activated and viewed by human eyes.

Again, “blue” light from our sun collides with the molecules in the air; it scatters and is perceived by our human eyes to be blue.  In a way, it’s “blue” because we say it is.  That one was easy, huh?

“Why is the sky blue?”  Now you know.

(Until next time, Mr. Blue Sky . . .)

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

American Live Wire . . . Listen and be heard.

(Image courtesy of HelloWellness and YouTube)

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.