My enthusiasm for the natural world wanes when it comes to things such as earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and mosquitoes. Nevertheless, while our present smoke-filled valleys are distinctly unpleasant, they offer some interesting features. Consider a view of the Sun.
Molecules in the atmosphere preferentially scatter bluish light and this produces the blue of skylight. The smoke particles do likewise and, as they add to the scattering, direct sunlight gets distinctly orangish.
As the smoke removes light from the direct beam, the Sun becomes dimmer making it easier to view and even see…
A sunspot can be seen at seven 0’clock.
It may be that some of the fuzziness around the edge results from solar prominences.
The picture shows a distinct variation in brightness and colour across the solar disc. This is a consequence of a real variation from the Sun, itself, and is known as limb darkening. Sunlight is emitted by (what is known as) the photosphere, but it must then pass up through the Sun’s atmosphere which absorbs some of that light. More sunlight is absorbed on the longer path through the solar atmosphere near the Sun’s limb than on the shorter path near the centre making the sunlight dimmer towards the edge. (The Moon, which lacks an atmosphere, does not show limb darkening.)
Finally, the limb darkening is asymmetric, with more darkness near the bottom of the image than the top. This is a result of the variation in the path with elevation through the smoke in our own atmosphere.
A view of the Sun through our smoke-filled sky reveals interesting features.