Chase the Rainbow?

Happy Tuesday, Friends!

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the science behind rainbows in this blog.

Today, I’d like to share another natural phenomenon – fire rainbows!

Even the name sounds impossibly cool, right?  However, they’re not actually rainbows (since no actual rain is involved), but the scientific name – circumhorizontal arc is bit of a mouthful.

If you recall, rainbows occur when sunlight passes through raindrops low in the atmosphere.  In contrast, a fire rainbow occurs when the sun (or moon) is much higher in the sky (greater than 58 degrees above the horizon) and the light passes through cirrus clouds.  These clouds are made of flat hexagon-shaped ice crystals which have to be oriented horizontally parallel to the ground.   The light enters a vertical side of the ice crystal, and then leaves it through the bottom so that the ice crystal bends the light to form the rainbow-colored arc.  This effect is similar to what happens when light hits a prism.

But… enough science.  Here are some cool pictures!



  1. Irene Salazar

    I really enjoy your articles, even when I do not comment. I had no idea these existed and have never seen one.

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