Walking on Air

September 01, 2011

Man-walking-on-air (3)

Photographer: Luc Perrot
Summary Author: Luc Perrot; Jim Foster

September 2011 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's ChoiceThe photo above gives the impression that this man (me) is walking on a layer of air inside a colorful bubble. Atmospheric optical phenomena can play with your mind at times. The colorful bubble is a glory, and my shadow is a Brocken spectre. They're caused primarily by diffraction processes. The minute droplets in the layer of fog deflect sunlight in such a way to produce concentric rings and overlapping colors. Like a rainbow, you can only see a glory or a Brocken spectre at the antisolar point. Because shadows converge at the antisolar point, when photographing Brocken spectres and glories the shadow of the photographer will usually be included; not as a blur in the background but as the center of attention (the glorified observer). Glories are commonly seen from airplanes when taking off or landing through a cloud deck. Photo taken on June 10, 2011, on Reunion Island.