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Atmospheric Optics

06/13/08

Permalink 09:13:07 am, by millercommamatt, 184 words   English (US)
Categories: General, Meteorology

Atmospheric Optics

In my opinion, one of the coolest non-precipitation atmospheric phenomena are ice halos.

Ice Halos
Ice Halos

Ice Halos are caused by the scattering, reflection, and refraction of light by microscopic ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. Depending on the size, shape, and orientation of these ice crystals in relation to the sun or other relevant light source they can create a wide variety of pillars, arcs, and bows.

A website called Atmospheric Optics does a wonderful job at describing the science behind these breathtaking phenomena and has a large gallery of beautiful photos. I highly recommend this site to anyone at all interested in rainbows, glories, arcs, and halos.

A few days ago, my office mates and I were lucky enough to see a circumhorizontal arc in the sky over our office. Hexagonal plate-shaped ice crystals in an overhead cirrus cloud created a vivid rainbow arc that spanned horizontally across the sky to the southwest of the building I work in. It was quite beautiful and it left me wishing I had my camera with me that day since that particular phenomenon is rather rare.

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