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Why the Sky Turned Red in China

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Red sky seen in China | Image by IHA Photo

A strange phenomenon occurred in the Chinese city of Zhoushan last Saturday as the sky appeared to turn blood red.

Photos and videos of the incident on May 7 spread across social media in the days that followed. Several videos show fear and panic, particularly among children. One video shows children crying and telling their parents that they were scared.


Online commenters speculated on the phenomenon’s origins, with many likening the scene to the apocalypse or regarding it as a bad omen.

According to the Daily Star, one commenter on Douyin, a Chinese social media platform, predicted, “There’s gonna be an earthquake in seven days.” Another wrote, “Doomsday is coming.”

Users on Twitter expressed doubt over the Chinese government’s official explanation that red lights on sailing vessels near the coastal city had refracted and changed the color of the sky from the typical blue to a dark red.

Some comments alluded to the banality of the explanation, even going as far as to say, “Isn’t that the exact reason scientists back in the day would give for UFO Sightings?” Others alluded to “weather balloon excuses” and “chemical weapons tests.”

In a statement to a Chinese state-controlled newspaper, the Zoushan Meteorological Bureau stated, “It was foggy and cloudy in Zhoushan on Saturday, and it was drizzling at the time of the red sky, which might have been caused by the reflection of light from the low-level clouds.”

According to a state-owned Chinese television station, a local fishing company confirmed the story from the Chinese government and stated their lights were to blame.

The company’s deputy manager told the channel, “We have [the lights] turned on when we are catching saury. The red light refracted out of the water and projected into the sky, causing a mirage-like phenomenon. It is very common, especially around coastal areas.”

Some Twitter users offered alternate explanations and were skeptical about the possibility of ship lights causing the phenomenon.

A popular post on Twitter made by user THE FLAT EARTHER, a data researcher in Cambridge, England, contained a photo of the red sky with the caption, “Skies over China turning red due to extreme government weather modification.”

Many of the replies to the tweet express users’ distrust of the Chinese government and the official story.

Experts outside of China have suggested that a solar storm could be responsible, as solar flares hit the Earth as recently as last week.

A solar flare of this type is called a “coronal mass ejection.” It involves plasma being discharged from the sun’s outer layer. The plasma then passes by or near other planets.

As these flares reach Earth, they can be responsible for solar storms and minor disruptions to the Earth’s magnetic field, which can affect power grids and satellites, among other things.

Thankfully, experts at astronomer Tony Philip’s Spaceweather.com project believe this particular solar flare is only expected to graze Earth and not cause significant damage.

The Zhousan Meteorological Bureau issued a “low visibility warning” on Saturday night, which continued through the night until the skies returned to normal on Sunday morning.

It remains to be seen whether Saturday’s red sky was a one-time event or if the phenomenon will occur again in the days and weeks to come.       

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