Science |Report

Explainer: Why has Britain’s sun turned red?

Today the skies in Britain turned an apocalyptic shade of yellow, as people noticed the sun turning red.

The phenomenon, witnessed across the UK throughout the day, has been met with astonishment, confusion and even humour from the British public.

A Met Office spokesperson said the strange sight was due to Saharan dust being picked up by Tropical Storm Ophelia as it moved towards Britain.

The “yellowish hue” to the sky has been caused by blue light from the sun being diffused and scattered due to dust particles high in the atmosphere, the spokesperson told WikiTribune. Meanwhile, the red light from the sun still comes through.

As fast winds from Ophelia moved up from the Azores, it picked up dust from the Sahara, the spokesperson said.

The storm also picked up smoke from wild fires in Spain and Portugal, which was also taken high up into the atmosphere, they added.

What next?

As the storm passes up the west coast of Ireland, it will take that dust with it, the Met Office spokesperson said. “It’s clearing through quite quickly,” they added.

The dust is due to travel east later today and overnight, before crossing Scotland and travelling out into the North Sea, taking the dust with it.


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Lydia is a staff journalist at WikiTribune, where she writes about politics, women's rights, inequality, sexual politics and more. Previously she headed up the women’s rights and political content at Konbini for over two years. In 2016, she made ‘Building Big’, a documentary about bigorexia and male body image. Her work has also been published in Dazed & Confused, Refinery29, Vice, Lyra, Banshee and Buffalo Zine. She is based in London.

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