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06-13-2019 11:35 AM
As I was driving home yesterday, I looked up into a lovely blue sky streaked with many clouds with unusual shapes. And then I saw this!
Never before had I seen a celestial prism with this presentation. Rainbows yes, but this -- no. Were any of you lucky enough to spot it yesterday, if you are in and around the D.C. Metro area? Perhaps it showed up in southeastern Pennsylvania, too.
Here's the explanation:
They were spotted high over Frederick and Great Falls and in Loudoun County — brilliant streaks of violet, chartreuse, yellow and orange in the afternoon sky.
Flanking high, wispy clouds, they looked like fiery rainbows, but there was no rain.
They were actually an atmospheric optical phenomenon known as circumhorizon arcs.
Common in the United States, these arcs form when rays of sun intercept the ice crystals in the sky (usually in cirrus clouds) at just the right angle to refract or bend the sunlight into the colors of a prism.
The website Atmospheric Optics describes the colors as “purer than those of the rainbow.” It explains they’re most likely to occur when the sun is high in the sky (above 58 degrees) in the mid-latitudes between noon and 2 p.m.
And, indeed, photos from our readers on social media came in right around this time.
Sometimes these arcs are called fire rainbows. But the Atmospheric Optics site says “the halo is not a rainbow and has nothing to do with fire.”
Find several photos of the phenomenon below …
06-13-2019 12:20 PM
Thanks for posting this! It is beautiful! I live in Oklahoma where the sky is huge and the weather is wild and I see the oddest and scariest and most beautiful clouds! We see all sorts of things here! LOL!!! I have seen that effect and it is indeed beautiful!
I love to look at clouds! You can see faces and animals and all sorts of things, and then in the next minute the clouds look like something else! Nature is wonderful!
06-13-2019 12:53 PM
I am always looking at the clouds - my "angels" ( Mom & Dad) know just when I need them the most and one or both magically appear. Or so I believe.
06-13-2019 01:01 PM - edited 06-13-2019 01:02 PM
I have the same belief (hope) that there are loved ones and signs in the clouds. Sometimes, an image I see is amazingly what I need to "see" at that moment.
Naive as it sounds, when I first saw this yesterday as I drove home from an appointment, I thought it was a "sign" and thought that I was alone in being excited over it. In the wee hours of the morning I looked at my online Washington Post and read the coverage that I posted in my original post. I was not alone in my excitement. That felt good, I must admit.
Somehow, I think of this sight as a sign of nothing but goodness, hope and beauty. And who doesn't want to see that? It was a kiss from heaven
06-13-2019 10:42 PM
What a rare gift. I have seen the Northern Lights a couple times, and stayed up all night to watch them
Nature is astounding
I would LOVE to see the Northern Lights. What a sight it must be! It's on my bucket list.
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