Lunar Iridescent Clouds and Saturn

November 29, 2021


Photographer: Soumyadeep Mukjerjee

Summary Author: Soumyadeep Mukjerjee; Cadan Cummings

A unique combination of astronomy and atmospheric optics happened on July 24th, 2021 when the Full Moon passed within approximately 4 degrees of Saturn and iridescent clouds treated night sky viewers to a spectacular display. In the image above, Saturn is seen toward the left of the image through thin clouds. The sky here in Kolkata, India was cloudy at moonrise, which turned out to be a blessing because the bright moonlight enabled beautiful rainbow-colored iridescent clouds to be visible. Iridescent clouds are a product of diffraction caused by similar sized water droplets or ice crystals in mid-altitude clouds that scatter light. They are mostly seen in daytime, so getting a glimpse of iridescent clouds at night is considered to be pretty rare. This specific event was especially noteworthy due to the variation of colors manifested in the clouds. 

Image Data: Nikon D5600, Laowa 100mm f/2.8 lens, ioptron Skyguider pro, ISO 100, 8 second exposure, 100mm, Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop Express

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