Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 10/ 3/2008

Glorious Day for a Glory

By Dan Stillman

Courtesy Earth Science Picture of the Day. Photograph by Rick Stankiewicz.

At first this may appear as a picture looking up at an airplane flying through a hole in the clouds and surrounded by a circular rainbow. It's not! Rather, the photo depicts what is known as a "glory" surrounding an airplane's shadow.

While you may not have heard of a glory, let alone seen one, you've probably heard of and seen a corona -- a ring of colored light surrounding the sun or moon. Coronas are formed when sunlight or moonlight is deflected around individual water droplets. They are sometimes seen when thin clouds partially veil the sun or moon.

Keep reading for more on glories. See our full forecast into early next week.

Glories are effectively "anticoronas," in that they occur at the point opposite the light source. A glory occurs when sunlight bounces off water droplets and back in the direction from which it came. Glories appear as colored rings of light, most often below an observer on a lower layer of mist, cloud or fog. Thus, they are typically seen from airplanes or mountains.

The only connection between a glory and an object's shadow is that they both happen to be located in the same place -- opposite the sun.

The glory in this picture was captured on an October 2007 flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Description adapted from the May/June 2008 issue of the D.C. American Meteorological Society newsletter.

By Dan Stillman  | October 3, 2008; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Science  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Awesome Weather Arrives for Weekend
Next: Biden, Palin Clash on Climate Change


I captured a similar image while a passenger in a cesna flying right over the cloud tops in NY state during late 2005. I will have to dig it up.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | October 3, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Here is my photo of a similar glory taken October 11, 2005 (almost exactly 3 yrs ago) somewhere between Binghamton and Syracuse NY hugging the low cloud tops (which were probably between 5 and 10k). This was the scene just below cloudlevel.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | October 3, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company