Wave Cloud Iridescence

February 16, 2006


Provided by: Geir T. Øye
Summary authors & editors: Geir T. Øye; Jim Foster

The colorfully tinted wave clouds shown above were photographed on January 30, 2006 from Orsta, Norway. Because wave clouds are typically composed of water droplets, iridescent or irisation is occasionally observed about their edges. Irisation is a diffraction phenomenon -- the deflection of light around objects resulting from its wave properties. In clouds, water droplets (perhaps very small ice crystals as well) can interfere with sunlight (or moonlight) in such a way to produce pastel coloration. Note, the dark cloud at lower center is located in the foreground and not associated with the wave clouds.

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