Thunder Bay Glory

July 07, 2008

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Referred by: Rick Stankiewicz
Summary Author: Rick Stankiewicz

The top photo of the two above shows the glory phenomenon as observed on October 28, 2007. I was on a flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay, Ontario, when I noticed this colorful glory and took several pictures. As we prepared to touch down on the runway in Thunder Bay, I noticed that the shadow of the De Havilland “Dash 8” aircraft was still visible from my vantage point. I managed another quick picture, which shows the same plane's silhouette but no glory. The glory was gone, but the thrill of seeing it was not.

Glories are caused by diffraction of sunlight and are only seen at the antisolar point directly opposite the Sun. As viewed from a plane, they’ll appear below the horizon. Look for glories whenever mist or cloud is beneath you and the Sun is shining above your position. The best way to increase your frequency of seeing glory is, of course, to be a frequent flyer. With a little planning and a bit of luck you can improve the odds of observing a glory on your next flight. Here are some tips that work for me.

A) Consider the direction of your flight path and the angle of the Sun in relation to this path.

B) Book a window seat on what you figure will be on the opposite side of the plane from the Sun.

C) Get a seat assignment that is well forward or well back of the plane, to avoid the dreaded “wing obstruction”.

D) Flights around either side of mid-day are best because the Sun will be at an angle that will allow it to potentially cast a shadow of the plane within view of your window seat.

E) Have your camera at the ready and keep watching the clouds below, and off to the side of, the plane. If you see the shadow of the plane, you may soon detect the colored rings of a glory around it.

Photo details: Nikon 4500 camera at ISO 100, f/7.8, 1/575 seconds, f/5.3, 1/271 seconds.