MadSci Network: Other

Re: Sky phenomena: Red sky at night....

Date: Sun Feb 22 17:18:25 1998
Posted By: David Winsemius, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Other
ID: 888185190.Ot

>My partner and I are doing a science fair project on the sky colours. >So far we know why the sky is blue and the sunset is blue but we want to deepen >our report. Can you give us any scientific information to back up the saying: >"A red sky at night is a shepherds delight." >"A red sky in the morning is a shepherds warning."

A basic explanation

A Biblical reference:

Most are familiar with the proverbial "Red sky at night, sailor's delight/red sky at morning, sailor take warning" as a means to forecast the weather. few are familiar with the Biblical origin of that rule of thumb, Matthew 16:3:

He answered and said unto them, "When it is evening, ye say, 'It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring.'"

An item from another site: Red sky, red herring? Maybe not.

Gary Lockhart, author of "The Weather Companion," says there may indeed be something to the adage "Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors' delight." The likelihood of rain falling within 24 hours of an excessively red sunrise is 61 percent in winter and 70 percent in summer. Likewise, he found that bright sunsets are followed by 24 hours of dry weather 71 percent of the time in winter and 57 percent o f the time in summer. Moral: If a red glow permeates your tent first thing in the morning make sure your rain gear is readily accessible.

Source: Backpacker magazine.

Although the author of this page calls these weather myths, his text suggests they have a real basis:

Red sky at morning, sailor take warning; Red sky at night, sailor's delight.

Weather rhymes and sayings like this one are centuries-old. Like much of folklore, some are based on real science. A red sky overhead at dawn signals that high-pressure air has moved past. Winds are likely to bring in wet weather. Here are some other well-known weather sayings that often prove true:

Ring around the moon, rain by noon.
Ring around the sun, rain before night is done.

A halo around the sun or moon is caused by ice crystals in cirrus clouds. That usually means wet weather is 12 to 18 hours away.

When the dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass.

Heavy dew on a summer night forms when skies are clear and the temperature has dropped. Plan on fair weather.

---end of quotes---

You will notice that all of these references indicate that the occupation affected is the mariner rather than the sheepherder. Perhaps Saskatchewan doesn't have a lot of sailors?

Hope this helps.

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