Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight – Is The Old Adage True?

“Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight. Red Sky in the Morning, Sailor’s Warning.”

Have you ever heard this old nautical adage and wondered if there’s any real science behind it? Or is it just an old wives’ tale carried over from eras gone by?

Well, we had the same question. So we did a little research, and yes – to some extent, there’s truth in the expression, even if it’s a bit cloudy.

Basically, when you see a red sky at night, the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. Usually, this indicates a high-pressure system and that stable air is moving in from the west.

This increases your chances that good weather is on the way.

Sunset in Seaside by Ocean Jewel’s Images

On the other hand, seeing a red sky in the morning can mean that a high-pressure system (a.k.a., “good weather”) has already passed, leaving room for a low-pressure system to move in. Seeing a morning sky that has a fiery red color can also indicate high water concentration in the atmosphere, so a rainy system could well be on its way.

So, why is the sky red anyway?

The colors we see in the sky are rays of sunlight being split into colors of the spectrum as they pass through the atmosphere. As they pass through the air, light ricochets off water vapor and dust particles in our atmosphere.

We see red because longer red light wavelengths are able to pierce through the atmosphere, while shorter wavelengths – such as blue – are broken up and dispersed through the sky. So when you see a red horizon, that suggests the atmosphere’s full of dust and moisture particles.

As for us here at The 30A Company, we enjoy sunrises and sunsets of all colors and varieties… even if we need to accept a little rain along with it.

Sunrise on Sunday

thought you might enjoy watching this morning’s sunrise with me… 30A.com/choctawhatchee-bay

Posted by 30A on Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mitch Jaugstetter is a contributor to 30A.com

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