Look Up and Find Your Fire Rainbow !


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Dear Friends & Readers,

Today, I want to share a special treat with you that  was received from taking an alternate route to the post office.  This is the first time for me to have ever observed such a special and rare phenomenon.  Naturally, I took out my IPhone and took a few shots, wondering how it was formed, shared below:

Fire Rainbow (on the way to post office) photographed by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Moving Fire Rainbow (on the way to post office) photographed by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

After I pointed it (what appeared to be a  fragment of a rainbow) out to my hubby (who happened to be in the car sitting next to me), he became quite ecstatic because he just read about this phenomenon on Reddit today;it was mentioned under the topic of Fire Rainbow.  Yes, one more item on the list of “firsts” that I brought to my hubby, from gardening/ perennials,  vitamins/supplements, yoga, solar car race,  unusual foods and spices, etc. and now the fire rainbow.   Upon further investigation online, I found out that  it/fire rainbow is fragment of Circumhorizontal Arc.

As it turned out, fire rainbow is a rare phenomenon that appears  when the sun is high which makes its rays pass through the high cirrus clouds containing the ice crystals.

For a clip of these Fire Rainbow or Circumhorizontal Arc:

For further understanding and sharing of this rare phenomenon, please also enjoy more of the photos and explanations from Wikipedia below:

circumhorizontal arc

Sun Arc/Horizontal Arc of 2011 at Oregon-Fire Rainbow (Wikimedia Commons)

is an optical phenomenon – an ice-halo formed by plate-shaped ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds.

The current accepted names are circumhorizonal arc or lower symmetric 46° plate arc. The complete halo is a huge, multi-colored band running parallel to the horizon with its centre beneath the sun. The distance below the sun is twice as far as the common 22-degree halo. Red is the uppermost color. Often, when the halo-forming cloud is small or patchy, only fragments of the arc are seen.

Fire Rainbow-Circumhorizontal Arc of Idaho (photographed in Coeur d'Alene by Gavin Anderson, June 3, 2006)

Fire Rainbow at Ravenna, MI-Circumhorizontal arc, Creative Commons

How often a circumhorizontal arc is seen depends on the location and the latitude. In the United States it is a relatively common halo seen several times each summer in any one place. In contrast, it is rare to non-observable in northern Europe.

Formation of the halo requires that the sun be very high in the sky, at an elevation of 58° or more, and that the cirrus cloud or haze contain plate-shaped ice crystals. The sun’s altitude determines the visibility of the halo; it is impossible to see at locations north of 55°N or south of 55°S (although a lunar circumhorizon arc might be visible). At other latitudes it is visible for a greater or lesser time around the summer solstice. For example, in London, England, the sun is only high enough for 140 hours between mid May and late July. Contrast that with Los Angeles with the sun higher than 58 degrees for 670 hours between late March and late September.

The halo is formed by sunlight entering horizontally-oriented flat hexagon ice crystals through a vertical side face and leaving through the near horizontal bottom face (plate thickness does not affect the formation of the halo). In principle, Parry oriented column crystals can also produce the arc, although this is rare.

The 90° inclination between the ray entrance and exit faces produce the well-separated spectral colors.

The arc has a considerable angular extent and is thus rarely complete. When only fragments of cirrus cloud are in the appropriate sky/sun position they can appear to shine with spectral colors.

Fire Rainbow off of the Coast of Carrillo (Creative Commons)

A circumhorizontal arc can be difficult to distinguish from an infralateral arc when the sun is high in the sky. The former is always parallel to the horizon whereas the latter curves upwards at its ends.

I hope you have enjoyed this piece.  Remember to look up into the sky from time to time because you’ll never know what treasure/treat you might discover.  Did you notice that most adults do not look up (or around, for that matter) that often…perhaps that explains why adults tend to get stiff necks far more frequently than children (who look up quite often).   Look up and take an alternate route periodically, so you’re more likely to discover something surprisingly intriguing.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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