northern exposures

I saw this unusual sight about a week ago. “How weird,” I thought, “It’s like a rainbow made of clouds.” I decided to call it a cloudbow. Guess what? Others have seen them, too, and called them the same thing; you can find numerous references to them online. Apparently they are seen most often from airplanes, so I feel quite special, having seen one from ground level. According to the sources I read, they are a similar phenomenon to the rainbow, except the light is scattered by much smaller cloud droplets instead of rain. The refraction angles are different because of the droplet size and the colors that you would normally see in a rainbow overlap and appear white. Or so they say. At any rate, I can assure you that this was truly a cloudbow without any color at all. It was varying shades of white and gray, formed directly opposite the sun whose light was quite diffused as it passed at a relatively shallow angle through heavy ground haze. I photographed it at 5:11 pm our time and it fully spanned the sky. It remained visible for at least 15 minutes.


11 thoughts on “Cloudbow

  1. interesting that you were one of the lucky few to see it from the ground… we kinda have something in common, because i (and ashlea) are two of the lucky few who have ever seen a rainbow as we flew over it! (that was a sight to behold!)

  2. “Cloudbow”…. this was amazing post again; the photograph, the words… You have a wonderful eye of heart, creates such a nice works, photography in words, or words in photography….
    Thank you, with my love, nia

    1. At first I thought I was seeing things. I had to look out of the corner of my eye to be sure I was seeing something and I wasn’t sure the camera would make it out.

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