By: James Felton/IFLScience If you’re in the UK and you’ve looked out the window at any point today, it’s likely you’ve seen an unusually red-looking Sun. The hashtag #redsun is trending on Twitter, with people sharing many photos that to be honest, look like they’re straight out of an apocalyptic movie.
It’s a pretty spectacular sight and can be seen from across much of the UK, according to eyewitnesses and photographers.
— Judy A. (@stone1_judy) October 16, 2017
— Sue Childs (@enigma915) October 16, 2017
— 'Armie' (@ArmiePC) October 16, 2017
Of course, the Brits being a calm and measured people, they are being extremely cool about the whole thing. Which is why #apocalypse is also trending in some areas of the UK.
— BillyRYT (@BillyRYTx) October 16, 2017
— Bethnoir (@bethnoir) October 16, 2017
— Becky L (@NelliesMum) October 16, 2017
But, like the red skies over Disneyland, there’s a slightly worrying explanation for the phenomenon. As with many things lately, it’s to do with hurricanes.
The BBC captured footage of the red Sun here and immediately linked it to Hurricane Ophelia, the strongest East Atlantic storm on record.
Our camera crew filmed this red sun this morning. We think it’s been caused by hurricane Ophelia. Did you see it? pic.twitter.com/ErOJBzkT7v
— BBC Points West (@bbcpointswest) October 16, 2017
Possibly a combination of Saharan dust and Iberian forest fire debris swept up by Ophelia.
— Sara Thornton (@SaraThornton1) October 16, 2017
The category 1 hurricane, which is battering Ireland at the moment, appears to have brought with it sand from the Sahara. A BBC weather presenter and meteorologist told BBC News that it could in part be caused by debris from forest fires from Portugal and Spain being swept up into the storm.
The dust and debris are causing light to be refracted at longer wavelengths, which makes it appear reddish in color.
“Ophelia originated in the Azores where it was a hurricane and as it tracked its way northwards it dragged in tropical air from the Sahara,” weather presenter Simon King told the BBC. “Because the dust is so high, light from the Sun is scattered in the longer wavelengths, which is more the red part of the spectrum, so it appears red to our eyes.”
So everybody, there’s no need to panic, it’s not the apocalypse. It’s just, you know, a hurricane sweeping up desert sand and dust from massive forest fires and transporting them hundreds of miles. Nothing to see here.
Of course, this isn’t stopping people from being spooked about the whole thing, and many people online are still calling it a sign of the apocalypse. Others are saying it fortells the birth of a certain Game of Thrones character. Because of course they are.