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Why is the sky blue during the day?

Why is the sky blue during the day?
Doris Noe from County Down (age 35-44)

Why is the sky blue?
Corinne Kerr from Stockton on Tees (Aged 5-14)

Why is the sky blue?
Bradley Kelly from Tyne and Wear (Aged 5-14)

What colour is the sky and what is the sky?
Haseena from Hertfordshire (Aged 5-14)

Answer 

There is a simple experiment you can try at home to help you explain this.
All you need is a large clear plastic container filled with water, a torch and some milk. Put a few table spoons of milk in the water and mix it up. Now, shine the torch through the container. If you look at it from the side, you’ll see it appears a bit blue. This is what happens in the sky.  In the same way the light bounces off the milk particles, light passing through the sky bounces off particles in the air. The blue light gets bounced around the most, so whatever direction you look at you see a blue colour.

The Punk Scientists at The Science Museum

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2 Responses

  1. In my view the sky is ultra-violet – but we just can’t see it. Thankfully, ozone stops most of it coming down to earth but there is still a lot that does. It can get through light clouds and through a meter of sea water.

    Some think that you get more sunburnt at the seaside because of reflections from the water. This is not so. At the seaside there is not much shelter but there is a lot of sky with low horizons – so there is much more ultra-violet hitting you. It’s the same at the top of a mountain – so watch out. Most shirts and blouses are only SPF4!

  2. The sky is also blue at night*. It’s just that the light coming from the moon and the stars is much fainter than the sun and our eyes are not sensitive enough to see the scattered light which causes the sky to be blue. We could measure it with a sensitive camera and see that it is blue.

    (* Skies at night near cities and towns are yellow – think of street lights).

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