Definitions

sky

sky

[skahy]
sky, apparent dome over the earth, background of the clouds, sun, moon, and stars. The blue color of the clear daytime sky results from the selective scattering of light rays by the minute particles of dust and vapor in the earth's atmosphere. The rays with longer wavelengths (the reds and yellows) pass through most readily, whereas the shorter rays (the blues) are scattered. An excess of dust, especially in large particles, causes scattering of many rays besides the blue, and the sky "fades" and becomes whitish or hazy. The sky thus is clearest in winter, in the morning, after a rain, over a mountain, or over the ocean. Leonardo da Vinci experimented with light and attempted an explanation of the sky's blue color. The work on light and its behavior by Sir Isaac Newton, Lord Rayleigh, and other physicists provided explanations of rainbows, sky color, mirages, and other atmospheric phenomena.

The sky is the part of the atmosphere or of outer space visible from the surface of any astronomical object. It is difficult to define precisely for several reasons. During daylight, the sky of Earth has the appearance of a deep blue surface because of the air's scattering of sunlight. The sky is sometimes defined as the denser gaseous zone of a planet's atmosphere. At night the sky has the appearance of a black surface or region scattered with stars.

During the day the Sun can be seen in the sky, unless covered by clouds. In the night sky (and to some extent during the day) the moon, planets and stars are visible in the sky. Some of the natural phenomena seen in the sky are clouds, rainbows, and aurorae. Lightning and precipitation can also be seen in the sky during storms. On Earth, birds, insects, aircraft, and kites are often considered to fly in the sky. As a result of human activities, smog during the day and light radiance during the night are often seen above large cities (see also light pollution).

In the field of astronomy, the sky is also called the celestial sphere. This is an imaginary dome where the sun, stars, planets, and the moon are seen to be travelling. The celestial sphere is divided into regions called constellations.

See skies of other planets for descriptions of the skies of various planets and moons in the solar system.

Sky luminance and colors

The light from the sky is a result of the scattering of sunlight, which results in a light blue color perceived by the human eye. On a sunny day Rayleigh Scattering gives the sky a blue gradient — dark in the zenith, light near the horizon. Light that comes in from overhead encounters an air mass 1/38th of the mass of the air for a sunbeam coming along a horizon path. So, fewer particles scatter the zenith sunbeam, and therefore the light remains a darker blue.

The sky can turn a multitude of colors such as red, orange and yellow (especially near sunset or sunrise) and black at night. Scattering effects also partially polarize light from the sky.

Sky luminance distribution models have been recommended by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) for the design of daylighting schemes. Recent developments relate to “all sky models” for modelling sky luminance under weather conditions ranging from clear sky to overcast.

Dark Skies

Dark Skies is the name usually given to the campaign to reduce and eventually eliminate light pollution from as much of the planet as possible. The campaign is led by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) and supported by organizations in many countries such as The Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand - RASNZ and Dark Sky Taonga Light pollution is defined by the IDA as; "Any adverse effect of artificial light including sky glow, glare, light trespass, light clutter, decreased visibility at night, and energy waste.

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