Red Cloudbow over Delaware

 

What kind of rainbow is this? In this case, no rain was involved – what is pictured is actually a red cloudbow. The unusual sky arc was spotted last month during sunset in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, USA. When the photographer realized that what he was seeing was extraordinary, he captured it with the only camera available – a cell phone.

Clouds are made of water droplets, and in a cloudbow a cloud-droplet group reflects back light from the bright Sun (or Moon) on the opposite side of the sky. Similar phenomena include fogbows and airplane glories.

Cloudbow

Here, the red color was caused by atmospheric air preferentially scattering away blue light — which simultaneously makes most of the sky appear blue. A careful inspection reveals a supernumery bow just inside the outermost arc, a bow caused by quantum diffraction.

Credit: Nasa

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn from Yosemite

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn from Yosemite

The five planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, have been seen since ancient times to wander the night skies of planet Earth. So it could be remarkable that on this night, standing at the side of a clear, calm lake, six planets can be seen with the unaided eye.

Have a look. Very bright and easy to spot for skygazers, yellowish Mars is left of a pale Milky Way. Saturn is immersed in the glow of the Milky Way’s diffuse starlight. Jupiter is very near the horizon on the right, shining beyond the trees against the glow of distant city lights.

Last weekend, while admiring this night time view across beautiful, high-altitude Lake Tenaya in Yosemite National Park, a thoughtful and reflective observer could probably see three planets more.

Credit: Nasa