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Why don't we see scattered wavelengths of light?

  1. Feb 15, 2014 #1
    So Rayleigh scattering says that higher wavelengths of light are scattered more than lower ones - but why don't we ever see the scattered wavelengths anywhere? Is it just because when they're scattered they have lower intensities and are outshined by blue?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    No, it's the other way around: shorter wavelengths (blue) are scattered more than longer wavelengths (red):


    So basically, blue light gets scattered towards your eyes, but the red light keeps on going more or less as it was and "misses" your eyes.

    Look in the general direction of the sun (not directly at it!) near sunset or sunrise, and you'll see more of the red or yellow light, because the blue light is scattered away from you. In principle, this is true at any time of day, but the effect is stronger when the sun is near the horizon and the light has to go through more air on its way to your eyes. (You also get more scattering from dust in that case.)
  4. Feb 15, 2014 #3
    Oo right. Thank you!

    I'm currently learning to how to write a letter of intent for my english class and the phenomenon is relevant to my anecdote. In part of my letter, I have to identify which research field i wish to work in the department. I'm only finishing my DEC in sciences(before undergraduate) at my cegep(college) and I have no idea how that works. If I'm applying to a masters program in physics, an area of research would be like quantum physics or nuclear physics? Or is that too general?
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