Skip links

Facts About The Sky For Kids


The sky, also known as the celestial dome, commonly refers to everything that lies a certain distance above the surface of Earth, including the atmosphere and the rest of outer space. This is an imaginary dome where the sun, stars, planets, and the moon are seen to be traveling.

  • During daylight, the sky appears to be blue because air scatters blue sunlight more than it scatters red.
  • 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.
  • Except for light that comes directly from the sun, most of the light in the day sky is caused by scattering, which is dominated by a small-particle limit called Rayleigh Scattering.
  • The scattering due to molecule sized particles (as in air) is greater in the forward and backward directions than it is in the lateral direction.
  • Scattering is significant for light at all visible wavelengths, but it is stronger at the shorter (bluer) end of the visible spectrum; meaning that that the scattered light is more blue than its source, the sun.
  • The sky can turn a multitude of colors such as red, orange, purple and yellow (especially near sunset or sunrise) when the light must pass through a much longer path (or optical depth) through the atmosphere.
  • Scattering effects also partially polarize light from the sky, most pronounced at an angle 90° from the sun.
  • Scattered light from the horizon travels through as much as 38 times the atmosphere as light from the zenith, causing it to lose blue components, causing a blue gradient: vivid at the zenith, and pale near the horizon.
  • Because red light also scatters if there is enough air in between the source and the observer, these longer wavelengths of light will also scatter significantly, making parts of the sky change color during a sunset.
  • Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that occur shortly after sunset or before sunrise, when a green spot is visible, usually for no more than a second or two, above the sun, or it may resemble a green ray shooting up from the sunset point.
  • The Earth’s shadow is the shadow that the Earth itself casts on its atmosphere, which is often visible from the surface of the Earth, as a dark band in the sky near the horizon.
  • When the weather conditions and the observer’s viewing point permit a clear sight of the horizon, the shadow can be seen as a dark blue or greyish-blue band.
  • Twilight is divided into three segments according to how far the sun is below the horizon in segments of 6°.
  • Several sources can be identified as the source of the intrinsic brightness of the sky, namely airglow, indirect scattering of sunlight, scattering of starlight, and artificial light pollution.
  • The term is usually associated with skygazing and astronomy, with reference to views of celestial bodies such as stars, the Moon, and planets that become visible on a clear night after the Sun has set.
  • Within visible-light astronomy, the visibility of celestial objects in the night sky is affected by light pollution.
  • At night, high thin cirrostratus clouds can lead to halos around the moon, which indicates an approach of a warm front and its associated rain.