Is it just me, or does Manfred Mann's Earth Band song Blinded By The Light come to mind when the sun rises or sets this time of the year?

As winter settles in and the days grow shorter, a peculiar phenomenon captivates our senses—the sun appears brighter, more intense, almost piercing through the crisp, cold air.

While it might seem counterintuitive, considering the shorter days and lower temperatures, there are several intriguing scientific reasons behind this curious perception.

Why The Sun Seems Brighter In Winter

The first factor contributing to the sun’s apparent brightness during winter lies in the Earth’s atmosphere.

In colder months, the atmosphere tends to be drier and cleaner, with reduced humidity and fewer particles like dust, water vapor, and pollutants lingering in the air.

When there's less moisture and fewer particles to scatter sunlight, the sunlight travels a shorter distance through the atmosphere before reaching our eyes.

This shorter path means less scattering of light, leading to a clearer and more intense perception of the sun’s rays.

The Sun Angle In Winter

Moreover, the angle at which sunlight reaches the Earth changes during winter.

In many regions, especially those farther from the equator, the sun takes a lower path across the sky during winter months.

This lower angle causes sunlight to pass through more of the Earth's atmosphere, compared to the higher, more direct path it takes in summer.

The increased atmospheric density along this longer path scatters more blue and violet wavelengths of light, leaving behind a sky that often appears crisper and clearer.

This phenomenon, combined with the reduced scattering due to drier air, accentuates the perception of the sun’s brightness.

The Human Eye And Sunlight

Interestingly, human perception also plays a significant role.

During winter, our eyes are accustomed to longer periods of darkness, which can contrast the low-light conditions and the sun's brightness more pronounced.

This contrast might make the sun seem brighter than it is, as our eyes adapt to the overall dimmer environment.

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