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Sundogs, iridescence and upside-down rainbows

Posted by on in The Sky
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Continuing our theme of interesting things in the sky it would seem that these crisp autumn days are just perfect for observing shimmers of colour on the clouds in the sky. It is also nice to be able to share these with friends and family who have never seen them before.

While taking a well-earned tea break this weekend my parents and I spotted a rather nice pair of sundogs. We admired them for a few moments when I suggested that the cloud conditions looked to be just right for a circumzenithal arc. We all turned our gaze upwards and right on cue… a faint curve like an upside- down rainbow grinned down at us. As CZAs are formed from the same ice crystals that sundogs are made from it is always worth taking a glance upwards to see if there is one smiling down.

The following day we saw a rather nice iridescent cloud, which we managed to photograph for the first time. In addition to the cloud being fairly thin, the water droplets in the cloud have to be the same size in order for the diffraction effect to be seen. We have observed iridescence several times from WV, although it is apparently uncommon.   It is amazing what you see if you just take the time to look up once in a while.

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