Sky Colors

Sky Colors (4)

Travis’s latest issue of Highlights magazine included an interesting article about why the sky appears blue even though sunlight contains all colors. (Spoiler: nitrogen and oxygen scatter blue light more so than the other colors). We then played with this quick way to visualize what’s going on right here at home!

Fill a clear plastic cup with 12 ounces water.

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Place the cup on a sheet of white paper in direct sunlight. We immediately noticed that a bright spot of white light (a.k.a. all the colors) appears on the white paper.

Sky Colors (2)

Now we added three quick pours of almond milk to the cup. This makes the water a little blue-ish, because now blue is scattered more than the other colors just as in the air. The color on the paper, on the other hand, changes to orange, since this is opposite from blue on the color wheel.

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I explained to Travis that this is a lot like what we notice at sunrise and sunset, when reds and oranges are allowed to come through.

Even though we could see the blue tint/orange paper a little, it wasn’t terribly pronounced. We’re wondering if perhaps this trick works better with dairy milk? If you use cow’s milk, please share your findings in the comments!

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