This is the last image I took on Sunday night as the afterglow finally faded (twenty minutes after the sun had set!). The oranges had shifted to a deep red sky and I had scrambled up the steps leading back to Peabody Lane. From the higher vantage point I was able to include a nearby dock and a view of the harbor filled with boats on this late September evening.
I had pointed to a site in yesterday’s post to share some information on how a sunset afterglow forms. In it, they comment on some of the qualities of a more beautiful sunset and finished with the phrase “Red sky at night, traveler’s delight; Red sky in morning, traveler take warning.” I had a bit of a chuckle at reading that as, living in a sailing town, I had only ever heard the ‘proper’ phrasing – Red Sky at Night, Sailors’ Delight… (though it appears there is an even earlier rendition with shepherd taking the place of sailors and travelers).
Scientific American ran a piece on this adage and the science behind it commenting:
The reddish color results from scattering of sunlight by suspended particles and aerosols in the atmosphere. The suns rays pass through a greater length of atmosphere at sunrise and sunset than at any other time of day. In addition, aerosol, dirt, and dust concentrations are maximized in the lowest layers of the atmosphere when the atmosphere is dominated by sinking air (high pressure). Therefore when under high pressure we can see vivid red sunsets and sunrises.