Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Sunset Colors
Name: Unknown
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

Are the colors of a sunset dependent on the tempature? What makes the colors of the sunset?

The colors of the sunset are not dependent on temperature, except in the case of a low enough temperature to produce fog or an enhanced haze (higher humidity combined with air pollution). The colors are a consequence of preferential scattering of different wavelengths of sunlight by the particles and water vapor in the air. A large amount of particles tend to scatter out blue light, giving us a pink to red sunset. The red sunset can be washed out to whitish by heavy haze or high relative humidity, which will scatter all wavelengths more equally; however, the sun itself will still appear to be reddish-orange. When there is very dry, clean air, such as with an Arctic high pressure system, the sky near the horizon will stay nearly blue, with the sun being brilliant orange.

David Cook
meteorologist at Argonne Nat. Lab.

Click here to return to the Weather Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory