Brightness at dusk Posted on August 6, 2011

Why does the sun come out as it goes down? It has happened so many times this summer that I am looking for an explanation. It is happening as I write.

Is it a local phenomenon? Obviously it depends on your viewpoint. There have been pesky grey clouds all day. It is too cold and breezy to sit outside. Then, just as I start wondering where I left the corkscrew, the garden floods with light.

It could be a weather front moving on at the end of the day. Sometimes it clearly is; the cloud formation shows it . Not this evening, though, with what appears to be an equal covering of cloud everywhere except this window in the northwest where orange light is streaming in. It sets light to the old red bricks of the Tudor chimney above the conservatory. It gilds the grey flint of the church tower, evening after evening.

The redness of the evening sky can be explained by the fact that sunlight at an oblique angle passes though more of the earth’s atmosphere than when the sun is overhead. The opening of the sunset window is what puzzles me. Is it a meteorological fact, or do we just live in a lucky spot?

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