Unusual Sky and Rainbow Colors

August 11, 2009

20090811 - Unusual Sky and Rainbow Colors
Photographer: Faye Landels
Summary Authors and Editors: Faye Landels, Jim Foster

The psychedelic double rainbow featured above was taken from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada on July 25, 2009. This cherry pink and apricot beauty appeared just as the Sun was setting at the end of a hot summer’s day. By the time I grabbed my camera the sky had turned completely orange. The camera is facing east-southeast, towards Vancouver and the antisolar point. The cause of this peculiarly colored rainbow is, not surprisingly, the cause of the gaudy sunset as well. For that matter, the cause is the same for the red and orange of all sunsets: blue and green light is attenuated by the longer path length of sunlight when the Sun is close to the horizon. In this case, further scattering of sunlight by the storm clouds approaching from the east likely contributed to the weird coloration. After the rainbow faded into darkness, a spectacular lightning display, the most impressive electrical storm here in years, lit up the entire sky.

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