Simple answers to common questions: why is the sky blue?

It’s easy to appreciate a brilliant sunset or sunrise. But for Baby, even a blue sky is something to notice and marvel at. Of course, at some point, he will be curious as to why the sky is blue, and not red, or green, or purple. In which case, Baby will likely ask you for the answer.

So, why is the sky blue?

The simple answer

Say to Baby, “The sky is made up of every single color, and they all move around together. But blue likes to move around the most. It bounces off all the other colors like a tennis ball. So when you look up at the sky, you can see the color blue zooming all over the place.”

Baby might (wisely) point out that the sky changes color during sunset. If this happens, you can respond with, “When the sun gets lower in the sky, it gets farther away from us. The colors we see in the sunset are the colors who were strong enough to make it all the way from the sun to our eyes.”

Tips to keep in mind

Of course, if you’re particularly good at explaining light beams and wavelengths, feel free to make up your own explanation! Either way, here are two things to think about when you have these kinds of conversations with Baby.

  • First ask Baby what he thinks: One way to encourage critical thinking is to prompt Baby to form conclusions on his own, before you offer an explanation. When Baby asks you why the sky is blue, see if you can first get away with asking why he thinks it’s that way.
  • Encourage learning and discovery: There’s so much more to know about light, energy, and other natural processes. If Baby seems interested, it can’t hurt to have some educational books lying around for Baby to explore. Consider finding an age-appropriate book or online resources, like videos and pictures, about these topics, or similar ones.

A final note

For better or for worse, the days when Baby relies on you for all his information won’t last forever. For the time being, try to cherish Baby‘s questions! As you know, the world can get pretty complicated, and it always helps to have an adult around who can simplify the hard stuff.


Sources
  • “Why Is The Sky A Light Shade of Baby Blue?.” KidsGeo. The KidsKnowIt Network, 2017. Available at http://www.kidsgeo.com/geography-for-kids/0045-why-is-the-sky-blue.php.
  • “Why is the sky blue?” Physics. Institute of Physics, n.d. Available at http://www.physics.org/article-questions.asp?id=108.
  • Philip Gibbs, et al. “Why is the sky blue?” UCR. The Physics and Relativity FAQ, May 1997. Available at http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/General/BlueSky/blue_sky.html.  
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