What has caused the strange red sun phenomenon in Ipswich and across Suffolk?

Carl Harlott took this stunning picture of the sun in Ipswich yesterday afternoon. Picture: CARL HAR

Carl Harlott took this stunning picture of the sun in Ipswich yesterday afternoon. Picture: CARL HARLOTT - Credit: Archant

Send in your photos of the red sun spotted in the sky over parts of Suffolk today, caused by Storm Ophelia.

The red sun in Suffolk. Picture: SOPHIE JACKSON

The red sun in Suffolk. Picture: SOPHIE JACKSON - Credit: Archant

The unusual occurrence has been seen in areas across Suffolk and Norfolk, as well as the Midlands and the South West, with a number of people sharing photos and video online of the phenomenon.

The sun went a deep shade of pink this afternoon in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The sun went a deep shade of pink this afternoon in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

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Forecaster Jim Bacon, of Weatherquest, explained: “It is a plume of dust high up in the atmosphere which has travelled north from north Africa. It is largely Saharan dust, and possibly smoke from forest fires in Spain and Portugal mixed in as well.

“The plume has travelled northwards on this very warm southerly airflow and that will eventually pass through to the east, so it is not going to be with us for very long.

The Willis building reflecting the unusual red sky. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Willis building reflecting the unusual red sky. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“What makes the sun red is the way that the sunlight is scattered when it shines through a big gap in the atmosphere. When the sun is straight overhead, it is going straight through the atmosphere. It is a quick transition.

A moody sun in the sky over Ipswich. Picture: CARL HARLOTT

A moody sun in the sky over Ipswich. Picture: CARL HARLOTT - Credit: Archant


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“When the sun is setting and low down, then it the sun is shining through a lot of that layer on the way through to your position in the middle. In other words, the total distance that it shines through, in terms of dust, means more blue light gets scattered and it is only red light which is left along the wavelengths which are left.

The redness in the sky was caused by dust being pulled up from southern Europe by Storm Ophelia, acc

The redness in the sky was caused by dust being pulled up from southern Europe by Storm Ophelia, according to forecasters. Picture: CARL HARLOTT - Credit: Archant

“It is a nice example of physics in action. It’s what science does. Everything up there obeys the laws of physics.”

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Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge said Storm Ophelia, now a former hurricane, is pulling air and dust up from southern Europe and Africa.

“It’s all connected with Ophelia, on the eastern side of the low pressure system air is coming up in the southern direction,” he said.

The last moments of the sun before it disappeared behind the clouds. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The last moments of the sun before it disappeared behind the clouds. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“Air is being pulled from southern Europe and Africa and that air contains a lot of dust.

“So it’s most likely the appearance of sunset at midday is caused by the particles scattering the light and giving the appearance of a red sun.

“It’s certainly spectacular at the moment and quite a talking point, we’ve had a lot of calls about it.”

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