This is not the Red Planet. This is Jambi, Indonesia

The glowing-red skies in the Indonesian province were caused by smog that had risen to the upper levels of the atmosphere. PHOTOS: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, WEIN ARIFIN/TWITTER, ZUNI SHOFI YATUN NISA/TWITTER
The glowing-red skies in the Indonesian province were caused by smog that had risen to the upper levels of the atmosphere. PHOTOS: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, WEIN ARIFIN/TWITTER, ZUNI SHOFI YATUN NISA/TWITTER

JAMBI • The skies over the Indonesian province of Jambi turned red at the weekend due to the haze from widespread forest fires, Malaysia's Sinar Harian newspaper reported.

Images and videos of the red skies, at 11am on Sunday in Jambi, have gone viral on social media.

Sinar Harian cited Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency's information chief Agus Wibowo as saying that the glowing-red skies were caused by smog that had risen to the upper levels of the atmosphere, a phenomenon known as "Rayleigh Scattering".

Indonesian astronomer Marufin Sudibyo explained that the skies did not turn red because of a sudden increase in temperatures.

"Rayleigh Scattering happens when sunlight is dispersed by smoke, dust or airborne particles that filter shorter wavelengths and release longer wavelengths that are in the orange or red spectrum, making the area appear dim and red," he said.

Mr Marufin also told Sinar Harian that in the Jambi situation, the density of the micro-particles and nano-particles in the air was large enough to make it much more dense than the normal atmosphere.

However, he stressed that the phenomenon did not have any adverse effects on human vision.

Sinar Harian also reported that similar scenes had been reported in Indonesia after the Krakatau volcano erupted in 1883, and after Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in 1991.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2019, with the headline This is not the Red Planet. This is Jambi, Indonesia. Subscribe