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Why is part of the sunset missing in these photos?

Crepuscular rays in the Tri-State sky
Posted at 5:31 AM, Sep 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-19 07:00:57-04

We received so many photos of the sunset last night, but it wasn't because it was vibrant or uniquely colored. Viewers like you were asking, "What is going on with this sunset?"

Check it out for yourself. This first photo is from Meghan Wesley, Senior Enterprise Manager at WCPO.

Mason Sunset

You can see why this had people scratching their heads. Part of the sky shows a gorgeous sunset (left) but the other part of the sky was still blue (right).

What you are looking at are crepuscular [kri-puhs-kyuh-ler]rays.

Here's another one from a different vantage point:

Another view

Crepuscular rays occur when objects such as mountain peaks or clouds partially shadow the sun's rays. In the photos submitted from last night, it was likely a cloud in the distant western sky that caused the rays to be blocked. I looked back on the visible satellite and infrared imagery and you can see a fading cloud out in Ripley County.

Simple but impactful, right? If you ever come across a sight in the sky that has you puzzled or in need of an explanation, just send an email my way!

From Scott Andes