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Rayleigh scattering UPSC NOTE

 What is Rayleigh scattering

  • Rayleigh scattering refers to the scattering of light by particles in its path of size up to one-tenth the wavelength of the light and occurs without any loss of energy or change of wavelength

  • For light frequencies well below the resonance frequency of the scattering medium (normal dispersion regime), the amount of scattering is inversely proportional to the fourth power of the wavelength, e.g., a blue color is scattered much more than a red color as light propagates through air.


  • The Sun still shines at the atmosphere, but at a sharp angle beneath the horizon. 

  • In this hour, we see the sky glow because molecules in the air scatter these sunlight in different directions, including ours. 

  • This is also why the evening sky appears red at the horizon.

  • Both this effect and the sky being blue-hued in daytime is the result of Rayleigh scattering

  • As the Sun continues to set, a smaller amount of sunlight strikes the upper atmosphere. 

  • Nightfall truly kicks in only when the Sun is at least around 18 degrees beneath the horizon.

  • The arrival of daylight happens in a similar process, in reverse. 

  • When the Sun is at least 18 degrees below the horizon in the east, the sky starts to turn reddish again near the horizon. 

  • When the star’s position crosses the horizon (as seen by the observer), daylight breaks out and the day begins.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Rayleigh scattering UPSC NOTE
Rayleigh scattering UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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