How Sunrise Happens and Why You Need to Catch a Winter Sunrise

In this blog we'll answer why is a sunrise red, how does sunrise happen and why you need a catch a winter sunrise in Ireland.


There’s something magical about winter mornings in Ireland. The air is crisp, the roads are quiet, and if you’re fortunate enough, you’re about to witness one of nature's most enchanting spectacles – a winter sunrise.



Imagine this: It's still dark outside, the world around you is asleep, and you're wrapped in a cosy fleece, stepping out into the brisk morning. You make your way to a vantage point where the horizon is clear, the perfect stage for nature's show. The sky begins to change, first subtly, then dramatically. Hues of deep blue give way to purples, pinks, and finally, the star of the show – a burst of fiery red as the sun peeks over the horizon.


So why is a Sunrise Red, Especially in Winter?


The vivid reds of a sunrise are a marvel, and there's science behind this beauty. Light from the sun must pass through more of the Earth's atmosphere during sunrise and sunset than during the day. This longer path causes shorter blue wavelengths to scatter away from our line of sight, leaving the longer red wavelengths to dominate the sky.


In winter, this effect is often more pronounced. According to Met Éireann, the lower sun angle during winter means the sun's rays have even more atmosphere to travel through. Furthermore, the cleaner, less polluted winter air in Ireland, as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency, enhances the visibility and intensity of these colours.


And How Does Sunrise Happen?


A sunrise is the moment the upper part of the sun appears on the horizon in the morning. The Earth rotates at a steady pace of about 1,670 km per hour (as per NASA's Earth Fact Sheet). This rotation makes it seem like the sun is moving across the sky, while in reality, it's the Earth that's moving.


In Ireland, the time of sunrise in winter varies greatly throughout the year due to its high latitude. One of the best parts about a winter sunrise is you don’t have to get up at crazy o’clock. On the west coast of Ireland right now, first light is 8.14am and sunrise is 8:57am.


Why You Need to Experience a Winter Sunrise in Ireland?


Capturing a winter sunrise in Ireland requires some planning. Checking the local weather forecast and sunrise time is essential. A morning with clear skies bodes well for a sunrise spectacle. And bring a flask with a warm drink. Popular places in Mayo for a winter sunrise are Croagh Patrick of course, Achill Island and Downpatrick Head.


In Galway, we recommend Diamond Hill, Salthill Prom and Kylemore Abbey. And in Kerry, we recommend Torc Mountain, Slea Head Dingle and the famous Ring of Kerry drive.


A winter sunrise in Ireland is not just a visual treat; it's a lesson in astronomy, a display of nature's palette, and a unique experience that varies with the seasons. Whether you're a photography enthusiast, a nature lover, or just someone who appreciates the simple beauty of the world, catching a winter sunrise in Ireland should definitely be on your bucket list and will set you up for your day.


So, this week, set your alarm, grab a warm drink, and prepare to be awed by one of the most stunning natural displays you'll ever witness.


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