Art & Photography / In Pictures

Red Sky at Night

We present a brilliant array of Instagram images of London's skies.

Courtesy of @sammcknight1
Courtesy of @sammcknight1

We all know the saying, "Red sky at night, shepherd's delight; Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning." It is a concept passed down since biblical times, referenced in Matthew XVI in the Wyclif Bible, and later by Shakespeare in his Venus and Adonis. And with good, scientifically-backed reason.

Weather systems typically move from west to east, and clouds appear a reddish pink when the sun shines on their undersides at either sunrise or sunset. At these times of day, the sun's light is passing at a very low angle through a dense patch in the atmosphere, known as The Belt of Venus. As a result, the shorter wavelengths of the visible spectrum – the greens, blues, and violets – are dispersed, and the sunlight lies heavily at the red end of the spectrum. If the morning skies are red, it is because clear skies to the east permit the sun to light the undersides of moisture-bearing clouds coming in from the west, suggesting that rain is on its way. Conversely, in order to see red clouds at night, sunlight must have a clear path from the west in order to illuminate moisture-bearing clouds moving off to the east, hintong at sunshine the following day.

Last night Instagrammers across London, in eager anticipation of some much-needed sunshine, noticed that the skies were burning a magnificent red, pink and orange, and captured the event on camera. Here, we present a selection of some of our favourite of those images. Now bring on the sunshine!

Text by Daisy Woodward