Red haze in Indonesia
A red haze cloaks a village in the Indonesian province of Jambi. Smoke from fires lit by farmers to clear undergrowth for new crop is causing the haze that is hanging over large areas of Indonesian provinces.twitter

Skies over an Indonesian province have turned blood red and their video footage and photographs are going viral on social media.

The Martian colour of the atmosphere, observed from the weekend, has been caused by smoke from the fires lit by farmers in some Indonesian provinces who resort to the slash and burn process to clear the land for the next crop, according to BBC. A resident in Jambi province, who captured pictures of the sky, said the haze "hurt her eyes and throat", according to the report.

Neighbouring countries have been complaining that the smoke emanating from the Indonesian wildfires cloak the entire southeast Asian region in haze. They also seem to be hazardous and causing a spike in respiratory illnesses across the region. Though illegal under the national law, the slash and burn practice continue in provinces as the authorities look the other way.

Citing a meteorology expert, the BBC report said the unusual tone of the sky was the result of a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering, in honour of British scientists Lord Rayleigh, who in 1871 published a paper describing this phenomenon.

According to website, Rayleigh scattering is the dispersion of electromagnetic radiation by particles that have a radius that is less than approximately a tenth of the wavelength of the radiation. The same principle explains the blue colour of a sunlit sky.

The pictures that spread on the social media were shot by 21-year-old Eka Wulandari from the Mekar Sari village in Jambi province, around midday on Saturday. The haze conditions had been especially "thick that [day]", she said. Wulandari posted the pictures first on Facebook and they have been shared hundreds of thousands of times.

Wulandari told BBC Indonesian that many online had doubted whether or not the photos were real. "But it's true. [It's a] real photo and video that I took with my phone," she said, adding that haze conditions remained severe on Monday.

Other social media users have posted similar pictures and videos showing a deep-red landscape. "This is not Mars. This is Jambi," said user Zuni Shofi Yatun Nisa. "We humans need clean air, not smoke."

Citing the Indonesia meteorological agency BMKG, the reports said satellite imagery revealed numerous hot spots and "thick smoke distribution" in the area around the Jambi region. Professor Koh Tieh Yong of the Singapore University of Social Sciences explained that this phenomenon, known as Rayleigh scattering, has to do with certain types of particles that are present during a period of haze.

"In the smoke haze, the most abundant particles are around 1 micrometre in size, but these particles do not change the colour of the light we see," the report quoted him as saying.