(KTEN) -- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has a very shiny nose… but why?

Is there an advantage to having a red nose (instead of blue or green) when guiding a sleigh through the snow? Or is his nose red simply because red is considered a Christmas color?

The reasoning behind Rudolph’s red nose has to do with the wavelength of different colors. Red is the strongest and longest wavelength which lets it remain bright even on a foggy or snowy night. Blue and violet light have short wavelengths, which means they’re more likely to be scattered by air or dust particles.

Red light has a wavelength of about 700 nanometers, whereas blue light has a wavelength of about 400 nanometers. Small particles are able to scatter about five times as much blue light as red. So, red light is thus able to travel about 5 times as far as blue light through air.

The science behind Rudolph's red nose.


If Rudolph were to have a blue nose, the blue light wouldn’t travel far, because air particles would scatter the light more easily at shorter distances. That means Rudolph wouldn’t be able to lead Santa and his reindeer as well. Red has a longer wavelength allowing the light to reach further and be seen from farther distances.

Rudolph’s red nose on a foggy Christmas Eve is similar to the reason why the sky is blue and why the sky turns red when the sun sets. All three scenarios have to do with the light being scattered due to their different wavelengths.

Given the different wavelengths, it seems a glowing, red nose is best to lead a flying herd of reindeer through a foggy Christmas sky.

And so, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer goes down in history!