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Dec 2 / kkrizka

Bright Winter Nights

While going to sleep yesterday evening, I noticed an interesting phenomenon outside. It was midnight, so I was expecting it to be pitch black everywhere. However my room was being illuminated from the outside, so I wondered what is wrong. When I looked  out the window, I found why. It was very bright outside, just as if it were a day. But why? Well, I think it was because of the snow that fell during the day. As you all know, snow is white. In physics terms, this means that it reflects all visible wavelengths of light waves that strike it, unlike black objects. Since the entire outdoors was covered in this white substance, the light waves were bouncing off everywhere, making it look like it was day. This was further confirmed by the fact that it did not look like your normal bright day, instead it had this sickly yellowish glow. Reason? Well, the only light source was the fluorescent street lamps which glow yellowish. So the only available wavelengths to be reflected by snow were yellowish white.

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  1. lindsay / Jan 25 2010

    I think it has something to do with the tilt of the earth…maybe allowing more of the moons light to enter the atmosphere? I noticed this phenomenon before snowfall as well…only in the winter tho…and often with cloud cover. I live in the country, so street lights are non existant, so can’t be used as a source of the reflected light.

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