If you haven't noticed the beautiful purple-hued sunsets we've been getting here recently in the Rockford area, you've been missing out on an interesting phenomenon.

Photo Taken In Lowestoft, United Kingdom
EyeEm, Getty Images

So, what's been causing it to happen so much lately?

A Russian volcano named Raikoke erupted in June and began spraying aerosols into the atmosphere. Those aerosols, according to Lars Kalnajs, a research associate at the University of Colorado, are responsible for turning the sky a purple hue in different parts of the globe.

Most notably, the Northern Hemisphere.

The eruption of Raikoke was so powerful that it was captured by astronauts on the International Space Station in June. It sits on an uninhabited island in the Kuril Islands chain in the northwest Pacific Ocean.

The level of aerosols that Raikoke's eruption released into the air were 20 times thicker than normal, Kalnajs and his colleagues found. The final results will be published in a journal later this year.

Although the volcano's eruption was violent, sending ash and plume nearly 8 miles into the air, there is no long-term danger, given its remote location, Kalnajs pointed out. But if the volcano had been in an area with a significant population, it could have had a different outcome.

“It’s really important when major eruptions happen that we get data quickly,” Kalnajs said. “We need to figure out if this is going to be the kind of thing that impacts hundreds of thousands of people around the world, or is going to be to be more minor?”


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