Here’s a little science lesson for you. The colour of the sky is perceived as “blue” due to the tiny particles and chemicals present in the earth’s atmosphere between ourselves and the sun. As we look through these particles, they create the colour we see in the sky. Closest to the earth, those particles are mainly nitrogen and oxygen molecules. However there will also be dust, debris and pollutants stirred up by the earth’s inhabitants (yes, that’s us). Commonly referred to as smog, in some countries this dust is so dense that the sun itself cannot be clearly seen!
Which is why it is so refreshing to travel to Fiji – where the skies are clear and visibility can be endless. So why are the skies so much bluer in Fiji? Less pollutants obviously. All you are seeing is clean air, and because the air is so much clearer, you are seeing “through it” for a greater distance. Meaning you are viewing a greater number of the natural particles in the atmosphere that give the sky its colour.
But what’s happening when the sun disappears for the evening, or just before it rises in the morning? This is when you get to see some real magic, the beauty of sunrise and sunset in Fiji. Because the sun is lower on the horizon the light has to travel further – and through more of those atmospheric particles we talked about – before it reaches you. Fiji’s clear skies – and the fact that you can generally see further when looking towards the horizon over the sea – further enhance this. As the light rays travel through the atmosphere they are “scattered” by the molecules they pass through. Blue and violet light are the first to scatter out of our line of sight, whereas colours such as yellow, orange and red continue on towards our eyes. Red has the longest wavelength of visible light colours, which is why it is usually the predominant colour in most sunsets, especially nearer to the horizon line where it blocks out all other colours.
And in the Islands of Fiji, those magical hours of sunrise and sunset paint a multi-hued palette of colour across the skies for all to enjoy. Cocktail anyone?
Chris McLennan is an award winning international travel photographer who has regularly photographed the islands of Fiji, capturing these stunning sunsets and sunrises. See more of his work at www.cmphoto.co.nz.
As printed in the May/June issue of Explore Fiji Magazine.
See the article in the online issue of the magazine here - http://viewer.e-digitaleditions.com/t/18754
Copyright Chris McLennan Photography.