Photos of the Week: Sunset from the Sky

Lesson in colors of spectrum helps explain beautiful skies

By BlueSkyStaff

Published January 23, 2023

Read Time: 2 mins


Pictures from airplanes high above the clouds often provide spectacular views, particularly shots of the horizon as the sun sets or rises.

Those views often provide sights that people on the ground can’t see as vividly. Sometimes you’ll hear that the reason is that sunlight bouncing off the clouds intensifies the sunset for passengers in the air.

A full explanation of why sunsets in general have such bright colors—both in the air and on the ground—can be found here, but essentially it’s because the colors of red, orange and yellow are more likely to make it to your eyes when the sun is low on the horizon, while blue and violet are scattered through the air more easily.

Lisa Lemmex captured this photo of the last part of a sunset flying from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh in November. As an added bonus, the sunlight reflecting off of the plane neatly outlines the engine and wing before the light fades.

During the day, as sunlight reaches Earth’s atmosphere, blue light is scattered in all directions by the tiny molecules of air in Earth’s atmosphere. Blue is scattered more than other colors because it travels as shorter, smaller waves. This is why we see a blue sky most of the time.

Harry Gaydosz snapped this pic of a FedEx McDonnell Douglas MD-11 at PIT against a beautiful blue sky.

Thanks, Lisa and Harry, for sharing these great photos!

Our readers continue to pass along shots of unique aircraft, international airports, historical events, gorgeous views and even family vacation photos for this feature. We love them! Keep them coming—you can click here for submission guidelines.

A FedEx MD-11 taxis past at Pittsburgh International Airport. (Photo submitted by Harry Gaydosz)

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