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Blue Sky
selective scattering of light by air molecules

Blue skies are produced as shorter wavelengths of the incoming visible light (violet and blue) are selectively scattered by small molecules of oxygen and nitrogen -- which are much smaller than the wavelength of the light. The violet and blue light has been scattered over and over by the molecules all throughout the atmosphere, so our eyes register it as blue light coming from all directions, giving the sky its blue appearance.

[Image: a blue sky (64K)]
Photograph by: Holle

Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.