Pink Sun

December 09, 2003

Pinksun copy

Provided and copyright by: Joe Klein
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster; Joe Klein

While we should always try to avoid looking directly at the Sun, the colorful orb shown above proved hard to resist. In late October a fast-moving brush fire in San Diego, California caused the Sun to be filtered into to a bright pink color by the enormous quantities of smoke in the atmosphere. Odd colored Suns and moons occur when particulates in the atmosphere are of a size just a little larger than the wavelengths of visible light. These particles can resonate with sunlight in such a way that certain wavelengths are strongly scattered while others are scattered more feebly.

This photo was taken in downtown San Diego, where the smoke was particularly dense. The blaze responsible for the smoky skies and this pink Sun came to be known as the "Cedar Fire." It consumed 280,000 acres and over 2,200 homes were destroyed, and it was allegedly caused by a lost hunter using a signal flare to locate help.

No adjustment to the color of the photo was made. Sunspots may be faintly visible -- the diminished glow of the Sun enabled them to be detected with the unaided eye.

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