NASA’s Sunset Simulator Shows Us the Fluorescent Twilights of Venus, Uranus, and More
Thanks to NASA, you can now stare into the gloaming of faraway skyscapes in Venus, Mars, Uranus, and Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. In preparation for a future flight to Uranus, planetary scientist Geronimo Villanueva of the Goddard Space Flight Center (cool job, bro) created a sunset simulation of different planetary bodies.
The animated clip presents the sunset views from the perspective of a person looking up at the sky from each location. In the simulation, a Venusian sunset moves through dusty yellows, a Martian sunset looks like a burning candle, a Uranian sunset plays with inky tones of blue, and a Titanian sunset appears, well, like drying mustard.
NASA more eloquently describes the Uranian sunset as “a rich azure that fades into royal blue with hints of turquoise.” The mesmerizing shifts of color and light are attributed to how a planet’s atmosphere interacts with sunlight, which the space agency notes is “made up of all the colors of the rainbow.”
“As these worlds rotate away from the light of the Sun, which is what happens during a sunset, photons get scattered in different directions depending on the energy of the photons and the types of molecules in the atmospheres,” NASA explains. “The result is a lovely palette of colors that would be visible to those standing on these worlds.”
For the blues of Uranus, specifically, the longer-wavelength reds are absorbed by the planet’s hydrogen, helium, and methane, while the shorter-wavelength blues and greens are scattered, resulting in mesmerizing twilight tapestry.
Let staring at alien skies be your occupation on this quarantine night. Watch the sunsets below: