Red Sky at Night, Sailors' Delight?

Red sky at night, sailors' delight;
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.

When there are suspended particles and aerosols in the atmosphere at sunset, shorter wavelengths (violets and blues) of the setting sun's light get scattered, while the longer wavelengths (red and oranges) are able to penetrate.  We see a sunset like this one.

Traditionally, the 'red sky at night' sailor's axiom holds, at least in the northern hemisphere, because weather systems tend to travel from the west to the east.  Thus, the dust and water vapor that refract the light are to the east of the sunset, meaning they have passed.  Conversely, a 'red sky at morning' means that the weather system is to the west and therefore still approaching.

In this case, however, the red sunset is not caused by a stormy weather system.   Instead the aerosols and particles in the atmosphere offshore are components of volcano smog -- called vog here in Hawaii.  On days when the winds are calm or relatively light here, emissions from Kilauea, the very active volcano on the southern part of Hawaii's Big Island, tend to settle over the island.  We don't like the vog haze -- it burns our eyes and makes our respiratory tracts congested -- but it does make for pretty and often dramatic sunsets.

sunset

Sky Watch Friday

Location: Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii

45 comments:

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I've always loved that red sky story.

I never understood it, though.
Thank you for the fascinating explanation.

Your photo is so dramatic. My favorite color is orange. So this photo is one of my favorites today.

Happy SkyWatching!

~Lisa

Ivar Ivrig said...

This is perfect! Thank you for sharing

Migs CFL fan said...

Fantastic colours, that is an awesome photo. Thanks for sharing!

Cheers

http://reginainpictures.blogspot.com/

Coloradolady said...

Beautiful sky. Loved the photo. Have a great SWF.

bowledover said...

It is a lovely picture thank you for sharing it with us.
We also find the following day, the particles have been brought down in the dew and cover vehicles and paths with a fine pink to orange dust.Late comers home often find their clothes stained with the dust also.

bobbie said...

That red sky had to be everyone's delight!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Vog is a new word for me. Sorry about the vog...but at least it makes for beautiful sky shots.
Happy Sky Watch!

Louise said...

Simply stunning. Nice commentary as well.

Photo Cache said...

Love, love, love, love it!

Titania said...

One spectacular sunset. Thank you for explaining what causes it.

Carletta said...

Such a deep golden glow - beautiful!

marcia@joyismygoal said...

such artistry

Rocky Mtn. Girl said...

Gasp... that's unbelievably beautiful! WOW.. the color is incredible.
~Michele~
Mountain Retreat- Canada

babooshka said...

Beautiful flamming orange sky.

Ryanne said...

that is a very beautiful sky. I love the orange glow. spectacular capture.

Becky and Gary said...

Another gorgeous sky. I always use that saying, and most of the time it's true.
Happy SWF.

Dar's Foto Faze said...

Yes it is a delight. Beautiful shot.

Arija said...

What a lovely molten gold sky. So well captured.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

beautiful sky for what ever reason it happens I am glad you captured it!

napaboaniya said...

Cool red and fiery sky you've captured!
Happy Weekend Bobby!

T and S said...

Gorgeous colors and very well captured

Jim said...

Hi Bobbie, your Hawaii sunset is very pretty. I can't remember that vog, but then our friend lived on Maui and maybe she wasn't that versed on the more volcanic areas. (We stayed at Mauna Kea State Park for six nights, the rest on the east and west coasts).

Thank you for peeking at my bear on the fan and for your nice comment. Yes, that is our daughter, Karen, on the gangplank. She came with us to Scotland.
Happy Skywatching,
..
I enjoyed your mallards.
..

Tabib said...

Lovely colour and good explanation too.
Thanks for visiting mine,
Happy weekend!

Rose said...

Very beautiful...to bad the vog effects your health.

Reader Wil said...

We have similar sayings in Dutch, but they have to do with rain. I cannot remember them! Anyway your photo is excellent and very colourful! Thank you for your visit! Have a nice weekend!

reluctantfarmchi said...

Beautiful Red sky! And great narrative too. You really captured the colors well. I appreciate your stopping by to see my few little moon shots. . . and for your comments. Happy SWF.

Greyscale Territory said...

Such a dramatic, vibrant photo! It seems to glow with power!

Gattina said...

What a romantic sky !!

Yes it was the Ferry boat to England, I wrote it under the photo, lol !

Shinade said...

Oh my Bobby this is one of the most stunning sunsets that I have ever seen in my life.

Oh I do wish we had such dramatic sunsets here. This is nothing less than magical.

Thanks for dropping by and leaving such a nice compliment on my first SWF.

Happy week end:-)

Mary said...

Stunning! Happy SWF. :)

Mojo said...

It's shots like this that explain the reason for the invention of the word "gobsmacked". A perfect blue is striking, but the blaze of a sunset like this one... incomparable.

Is it just me or is anyone else smelling cinnamon right now?

Rambling Woods said...

VOG? There is something I won't be seeing here in NY...

Tootie said...

B E A U T I F U L!!!

Traci said...

What a great photo!! Also I want to say Thank You for welcoming me to SkyWatch:-) I really appreciate it.

Traci

Pearl Maple said...

Beautiful photo and interesting to learn more about vog.

Suppose most of our pretty photos come from nature or polution doing their think to play with light reflections.

Thanks for sharing with sky watch friday and your kind comments on my post earlier.

Powell River Books said...

Very interesting, I've never heard of vog before. I invite you to come see my sky views from the BC Ferry to Powell River. -- Margy

Celeste said...

Beautiful picture, sorry you had to get burning eyes and sinus congestion to get it though!! :)

me ann my camera said...

Beautiful drama!
ann

Jeannelle said...

Wow...great sky scene and very informative explanation for the colors! Happy SkyWatching! Greetings from Iowa.

ChrissyM said...

Thank you for sharing! This is beautiful!! So breathe taking!

BNS said...

Thanks to all of you for visiting and for your comments. I appreciate the feedback.

@ Jim (and anyone else interested in the vog issue) - Although vog has been an occasional problem since Kilauea began erupting in 1983, it became a more serious and much more frequent problem since March of this year when a new and very active vent opened in Kilauea's Halemaumau Crater. The new vent has been emitting enormous amounts of Sulfur dioxide, ash, smoke, and other gases -- more than 10 times the 'normal' background rate. This has been a dramatic change for us and has led to significant problems in some areas of the Big Island.

From time to time, I write about Kilauea Volcano and the vog here, in one of my other blogs.

Bobbie

2sweetnsaxy said...

It is beautiful. Too bad about how it's caused but it sure makes for a dramatic and gorgeous sky.

Jinghui said...

I love this photo !

When I get the chance to visit Hawaii and my friends there, I must get them to bring me around for landscape photography !

JH
http://www.photojournalist-tgh.tv

BNS said...

@ 2Sweet - Your comment echoes my feelings exactly!

@ Jinghui - Thank you. If you get to visit my island, I would be happy to go with you to shoot landscapes.

Bobbie

Tink *~*~* said...

You've got vog on your blog! :D This is beautiful. Love it!

Tink *~*~*