Blue Sun Over Britain: A Simple Explanation to Today’s Mystery

28th Sep 2023
Blue Sun Over Britain: A Simple Explanation to Today’s Mystery

Britons witnessed an extraordinary spectacle this morning as the sun appeared to have turned a startling shade of blue.

“Gosh, never seen a blue sun before!” – posted one of the users on X (previously known as Twitter).

While the sight was indeed strange, there is no cause for alarm. The reason behind the blue sun seen over the UK on 28th September is quite simple and rooted in science.

Experts explain the simple reason behind the blue sun over the UK

Deputy chief forecaster at the Met Office explained that the unusual blue shade of the sun was due to a mixture of smoke from Canadian wildfires and high clouds scattering the sunlight above the UK. This phenomenon is not unheard of and has occurred in the past under specific atmospheric conditions.

shocking blue sun in britain
Credit: Ruth Wadey

When sunlight, which is made up of a spectrum of colours, passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, it scatters in all directions. This scattering, known as Rayleigh scattering, is more effective at the blue end of the spectrum, hence why we typically see a blue sky. However, when larger particles such as smoke or dust are present, they scatter longer, redder, wavelengths of light instead of blue.

In this case, the smoke from the Canadian wildfires, combined with high clouds, created the right conditions for the sunlight to scatter in such a way that the sun appeared blue to observers on the ground. This event serves as a reminder of the complex interplay between our planet’s atmosphere and the sunlight that reaches us.

It’s also worth noting that this phenomenon differs from events such as the “Miracle of the Sun,” where observers reported seeing the sun turn blue, among other colours. The “Miracle of the Sun” is associated with religious visions and does not have a widely accepted scientific explanation.

Credit: Tyler McNeill

So, while the sight of such a sun in Britain may seem otherworldly, it’s merely a testament to the fascinating physics of light and our atmosphere. It creates a unique and memorable visual experience for those lucky to witness it.

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