Saturday, 23 December 2006

A blast of light from space

Yesterday afternoon Vera came running and said this must be the most incredible display of lights in the sky. Somewhat a rainbow but with no rain. In fact it was a bright hot summer day. I decided to capture this amazing display in my camera, right in front of our home.

Here it is...

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This morning, I was reading the Dominion Post (our local newspaper) and this is what we discovered it was.

" It looks like a rainbow that's been set on fire, but the solar phenomenon is as cold as ice. Known in the weather world as a circumhorizontal arc. This multi coloured arc is caused by light passing through wispy, high altitude cirrus clouds which contain fine ice particles. This optical phenomenon is said to be reasonably rare.

Though similar in principle to a rainbow, the hexagonal ice crystals that make up the cirrus clouds are shaped like thick plates with their faces parallel to the ground. When light enters through a vertical side face of an ice crystal and leaves from the bottom face, it refracts, or bends, like light through a prism. If cirrus srystals are aligned just right the whole cloud lights up in a spectrum of colours.

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