Dazzling Atmospheric Phenomena on Painted Pavement

September 23, 2021


Photographer: Miroslav Grnja

Summary Author: Miroslav Grnja; Cadan Cummings

The picture above is an example of an optical phenomena called the opposition effect. The opposition effect occurs when a rough surface is illuminated from directly behind and causes an area of apparent brightness around the object’s shadow.  Specifically, the area of brightness is centered around the anti-solar point, which is the point directly opposite of the Sun. Similar to the opposition effect, glory is another form of optical phenomenon that appears at an object’s anti-solar point. Instead of depending on light scattering from a surface, a glory happens due to moisture or water droplets in the air that reflect and refract sunlight to create a circular shaped rainbow.   

In the case of the picture above, the crosswalk was repainted several days prior. This newly painted surface with high reflecting and scattering properties presumably accentuated the rough texture of the pavement and combined with moisture in the air led to these optical phenomena being visible around the shadow. 

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