Nature heals and inspires. She also comes up with ethereal creations that seem straight out of dreamscapes. Here’s a closer look at the science behind some of the most surreal natural phenomena. If the stars align, you may even come across some of them on your next trip outdoors.
Move over rainbows and make way for the moonbow — every bit as beautiful except magnified under the beauty and mystery of moonlight. They are colorful arches that occur when moonlight reflects and refracts off droplets in the sky. Moonbows rarely occur. When they do, conditions must be perfect – a dark sky, a low moon, and rainfall opposite the moon.
Think of a rainbow that’s a circle, and you get a halo. Halos form when light reflects through ice crystals high in the sky. The result is a perfect circle, shimmering as it glows in the sky. Halos appear either as colorful light around the sun or large white circles.
Did you know that shooting stars aren’t actually stars? They are small rocks or meteors that burn up while entering the earth’s atmosphere. The accompanying light we see is the particles heating up and burning.
Do you think thunderstorms are terrifying? Imagine one with volcanic ash and lava. Allow us to introduce you to volcanic lightning. Volcanic lightning appears during a volcano explosion and forms inside the volcanic plume. The particles that comprise the plume compress underground and eventually erupt from the earth. The density and friction of particles alter, causing an electrical charge and creating lightning inside the volcano.
Light or Solar Pillars
Light pillars are colorful light beams that radiate down from the sky, some would say like blessings from heaven. They occur during sunrise in cold regions when light reflects off crystals of ice in the air.