4 facts about sunsets

Things you probably don't know about our favourite pre-night show

By Michelle KellyMichelle Kelly

Sunsets

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Sunlight contains all the colours of the spectrum, each of which has a different wavelength that affects how it is scattered by the billions of molecules in the atmosphere. The red wavelength is the longest and least scattered. So as the sun sets, getting closer and closer to the horizon where the light passes through a thicker portion of the atmosphere, all other colours of the spectrum are scattered, leaving red for cottagers to ooh and aah over.

Best sunset-producing pollutant

It’s wrongly believed that smog improves the intensity of the sunset. In fact, it adds a greyish hue to the heavens. The real show is provided by natural pollutants, like smoke from forest fires and volcanic dust. After the Philippines’ Mt. Pinatuba exploded in 1991, spectacular sunsets were seen the world over.

Hot flash

If you’re very lucky, on a clear evening with an unobstructed horizon, you may see the fabled green flash. It is literally a flash of green light (the wavelength is in the middle of the spectrum) being refracted from the last tip of the setting sun.

Lake Huron exposed!!!!

Contrary to claims made by Lake Huron cottagers, National Geographic did not rank their lake’s sunset among the Top Ten in the World. In fact, the folks at NG told us it has never done a top ten anything.

No. of sunset lakes in Ontario: 6

How long are sunsets on Sunset Lake?

The further north you are, the longer the day and the sunset. On this year’s summer solstice, at Ontario’s northernmost Sunset Lake, 130 km northwest of Cochrane, the sun began setting at 9:32 p.m. and finished 44 minutes later. On the most southerly Sunset Lake, east of Burk’s Falls, the sunset started at 8:08 p.m. and lasted 38 minutes.

 

This article was originally published on May 13, 2008


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