‘Here comes the sun’

Our daily companion


The Sun. The first thing seen in the morning and the last thing seen at night. Each day it provides light and productivity, harsh tan lines to those who don’t take necessary precautions, and warm summer days. While the sunrise marks the coming of light and a fresh start, the sunset represents the beginning of darkness and the end of a day. 

mesmerizing January sunrise

Amherst freshman Maddie Lusic welcomes the feelings they bring in her: “ I notice sunrises and sunsets, they make me feel happy and satisfied, when I see them they make my day and I always make sure to take pictures to look back on.”

Amherst art Teacher Ms. Kaycie doesn’t take photos but sees each as a remarkable moment in time. “I really enjoy them, but I don’t take pictures of them because they never look like the actual thing.”

Amherst freshman Olivia Davis says “they make me feel motivated to start my day and end it on a high note.”

As the year goes on the days get shorter, the exact moment the sun rises and sets depends entirely on the season. The reason for different sunrise and sunset times is because of the sun taking different paths along the sky at different speeds each day.

Lets get into the detail, and start with sunsets. Weirdly enough sunsets are just an illusion. What is seen in the sky is a refraction of the sun. The Earth’s atmosphere bends the sunlight, which enables people to see the sunset. By this time the sun has already dipped deep into the horizon. 

“Because the sun is low on the horizon, sunlight passes through more air at sunset and sunrise than during the day, when the sun is higher in the sky,” Ackerman told Science Daily in 2007. 

The red, orange, and yellow colors of a sunset or a sunrise are influenced by environmental elements like smog, dust particles, smoke particles, or other air pollutants. Air pollution is a factor that has a massive negative impact on the planet but for a long time, it is been providing us with some of the most amazing sunrises and sunsets.  A sunset is a striking visual that invokes a variety of emotions by helping people to feel calm, serene, satisfied, and at peace. In fact, many psychologists and experts advise people to take time out of their day to appreciate the view of a sunset or sunrise.

Now lets talk about sunrises. A sunrise and a sunset are very much different from each other but on some occasions the sunrise you saw in the morning is almost identical to the sunset you saw in the evening. This is due to the fact that there is not much difference in the light that is coming from the sun and during these instances the sunlight passes through the same distance of the atmosphere.

An orange night to start off December

It’s very unknown by most people, but there is a way to predict what the sunrise and sunset will look like using the weather and clouds. The single most important weather factor in determining whether or not there will be a fantastic sunrise or sunset is the clouds.  The type of clouds in the sky, the thickness of the cloud cover, and the height of the clouds all play very important factors in creating a great sunrise or sunset.

For an ideal sunrise or sunset, look for a high cloud cover. If the clouds are too low they will cover the red and orange colors you are hoping to see. If the clouds are too thick the colors aren’t going to shine through. Also with more puffy clouds, the sky will have more of a pattern with the accent of blended colors in the background. The proper clouds in the proper position will reflect the long-wave colors and act as a sort of canvas to display a brilliant sunrise or sunset.  On the other hand, if there aren’t enough clouds in the sky, it gets too overcast, or the clouds are in the wrong position, it can mute an otherwise fantastically-colored sky.

Another factor that can determine how fantastic sunrise or sunset will be is the quality of the air in terms of cleanliness. Clean air does a fantastic job of scattering light. This is why you typically see some of the most fantastic sunrises and sunsets just after a thunderstorm. The wind is a factor in determining the brilliance of a sunrise or sunset in that it can drastically change the other weather conditions necessary for creating a great sunrise or sunset.  In other words, wind can either work in your favor, or it can work against you.  It all depends on how the wind impacts the clouds and the cleanliness of the air.