Scarlet Billows

August 20, 2004

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Provided by: John A. Adam, Old Dominion University
Summary authors & editors: John A. Adam

This brilliant, scarlet cloud was photographed in late November, 2003, about 20 minutes after sunset, from Norfolk, Virginia. The underside of this linear cloud looks like it's on fire. It's just at the right altitude (alto or mid level cloud) to reflect the deepening red light from the Sun -- greater pathlength of the Sun's rays when it's near the horizon reddens sunlight. I followed this cloud, and others nearby, from about 30 minutes before sunset to about 45 minutes after the Sun had set and noted that their shapes remained remarkably stable during this period.

The sky this evening was one of the most fascinating I had ever seen. I took the photograph from outside the Perry Library at Old Dominion University, and I was both amazed and disappointed to see how many passers by failed to look up and see the greatest free show of the month!

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