The Edge of Night

“Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight… .”

From “A Walking Song,” J.R.R. Tolkien, Vol. I, Ch. 3, The Lord of the Rings

“The edge of night” sounds like poetic license but it really exists. You’ve seen it many times at sunset.

Don’t recall that dramatic sight? Well, Earth is very big and its movements can be subtle from our perspective. You just have to know what to look for.

Sunsets are fabulous, and sometimes the glow seems to spread all the way to the east:

Image source:  Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Image source: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

That full moon means that the sun was directly behind the photographer in this shot.

The horizon turns pink all around at sunset because the atmosphere is thickest there, from our viewpoint. In the east, it happens as the last rays of light are reflected back towards the Sun – a phenomenon known as backscattering.

Victorians called this rosy glow the Belt of Venus.

Now, see that dark blue line under the glow? That’s Earth’s shadow…the edge of night.

Edit: Here is more information from Earth Science Picture of the Day.

Categories: Tolkien Tuesday

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