Fan Photo: Rainbow on the Horizon by Michelle Woznicki

This rare photograph of an unusual rainbow was taken a few weeks ago by our fan, Michelle Woznicki. Horizontal rainbows, known as curcumhorizontal arcs occur when:

A few things need to come together for this fairly rare scene to occur. First, the Sun must be at a fairly high angle in the sky. To be exact, it must be situated nearly 60 degrees above the horizon. Second, there need to be cirrus clouds present. Third, the ice crystals in the cirrus clouds have to be aligned in a horizontal manner. When these criteria are met, sunlight travels through the suspended ice crystals and is refracted. Remember that visible light is made up of all the colors of the spectrum. When light passes through a medium, such as a prism, each color in the spectrum travels through the medium at a different speed, resulting in each color being separated by the time it exits. In this case, the grouping of ice crystals act like prisms, as visible light enters and then exits in a display of the different colors of the spectrum showing horizontally across the horizon.

This is according to Professor Paul Trambley, a meteorologist at his website HERE. You can also find out more about these rarely seen phenomena HERE at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

No matter what you happen to see here, know that we are always happy to receive your photographs for publication. You can submit them by clicking HERE. Photos sent thru our social media channels can’t be used due to sizing and compression rates. We look forward to seeing your spectacular photos!


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