Image: Smoke on the mountain

Wānaka’s beauty disappeared under an apocalyptic haze on New Year’s Day | Images from Kate Blyth

Metservice NZ reported that the orange colour is due to, “the light of the sun shining through the air filled with the small smoke particles, the particles change the direction of light rays, causing them to scatter. The colour we see in light depends on its wavelength, for example, 700nm at the red end of the spectrum to 400nm at the violet end. The short-wavelength blue and violet are scattered much more than other colours of the spectrum. More molecules in the atmosphere mean all the blue and violet is scattered away from our line of sight while the other colours yellow, orange, and red continue to your eyes. So, in summary the smoke particles filter out the blue light in the spectrum and can make the sky look orange and the sun look red, particularly at sunrise and sunset.”


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