Red sky at night... a shepherd's delight. This is a popular saying in the UK. However, a red sky at sunset usually signifies an increase in dust particles in the atmosphere towards the west. This isn't half as poetic though. The picture below was taken this evening and shows a particularly pink sunset. It is very tempting to ascribe the vivid colours to smoke from the explosion that occurred on Sunday.

Sunset seen following the Hemel Hempstead explosion. CREDIT: Stuart

In case you don't know, there was a massive explosion at a fuel depot near Hemel Hempstead in the UK. Amazingly, nobody was killed in the explosion but it has put - and is still putting - a lot of soot particles into the atmosphere over the south of England and Wales. The Met Office have flown through the expanding cloud in a plane and measured particles that range in size from one to three microns. These filter out the blue light, so will produce some dramatic sunsets in the UK (probably northern France too) until they get washed out of the atmosphere. I imagine this will also ruin the chances of many people seeing the Geminids.

No prizes for guessing what the structure to the right is.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 13th Dec 2005 (17:13 UTC) | Permalink
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