Today, I was coming back from music school, and it was raining heavily. An hour after I came back, the sun started coming out from one side, and the sky wa very brighr yellow. The lighting effects that came through all my windows were spectacular.

Here are some images: 1 2 3

I appreciate any explanation how phenomenon like this can occur and why.

  • $\begingroup$ getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/… $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ I am also interested in this question. Did you find a satisfactory answer yet? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ No idea where you're school is, but it is a frequent phenomenon on the Canaries, called Calima. There's a lot of Sahara-dust, even sand in the air in suspension that scatters the sunlight in such a manner. $\endgroup$
    – user20217
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 8:27

2 Answers 2


In this case I'd say it's a combination of Rayleigh scattering,
Mie scattering and the angle of the sun.

Rayleigh scattering is related to the chemical composition of the atmosphere and occurs when the particles causing the scattering are smaller in size than the wavelengths of radiation in contact with them (this is why the sky appears blue most of the time). The yellow sky in this question is likely mostly owing to Mie scattering. Mie scattering is caused by pollen, dust, smoke, water droplets(the most likely culprit in this case), and other particles in the lower portion of the atmosphere. It occurs when the particles causing the scattering are larger than the wavelengths of radiation in contact with them. The angle of the sun and Raleigh scattering may also be at play, when the sun is low in the sky sunlight passes through more air than when the sun is higher in the sky. More atmosphere means more molecules to scatter the violet and blue light away from your eyes. If the path is long enough, all of the blue and violet light scatters out of your line of sight. The other colors continue on their way to your eyes. This is why sunsets are often yellow, orange, and red.


It's a concept called rayleigh scattering. Shorter wavelengths are scattered more and longer ones are scattered less. This explains why the sky is blue. Sometimes, after a storm passes, the yellow/orange tint is a result of that reyleigh scattering.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Can you explain what about the setup of a situation like this would cause this? Additionally why it's yellow and not the more typical oranges and reds of sunset? Not picking on your answer, just would like to hear more details if you know it :-) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 10:46

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