June 23 (UPI) -- Tired of those boring Earth sunsets? NASA has the antidote: a new video simulation featuring sunsets from across the solar system.
The new online animation visualizes a sunset from the perspective of a view on the surfaces of Venus, Mars, Uranus and Titan. For comparison, the video also features a typical sunset on Earth.
Sunsets happen as a planet rotates away from the sun, causing the star to dip below the horizon. As the sunlight's photons interact with the molecules in a planet's atmosphere, some wavelengths are reflected or absorbed, while others pass through, giving each sunset a unique color palette.
On Uranus, the longer-wavelength red portion of the sun's light is absorbed by the atmosphere's abundance of hydrogen, helium and methane. The leftover shorter-wavelength blue and green photons get scattered by the gas molecules, producing a sunset that begins with deep azure blues, followed by royal blues accented with touches of turquoise.
To create the new simulation, published online this week, Geronimo Villanueva, a planetary scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, analyzed the atmospheric makeup of Earth's planetary neighbors. He then determined the intensity of sunlight that reaches each of the five featured planets.
"The animations show all-sky views as if you were looking up at the sky through a super wide camera lens from Earth, Venus, Mars, Uranus, and Titan. The white dot represents the location of the sun," NASA wrote in a news release. "The halo of light seen toward the end of the sunset on hazy Earth is produced because of the way light is scattered by particles, including dust or fog, that are suspended in the clouds."
The simulations were made using the Planetary Spectrum Generator, an online tool Villanueva created to help scientists determine how light moves through and interacts with the atmospheres of planets, exoplanets, moons and comets.