Cloudbow & glory


I no longer travel much by plane, so my opportunity to see cloudbows and glories is not great. But last week, I flew to the Coast, and for most of the way the plane was above a thick layer of stratocumulus. Now a thick layer of cloud decreases the contrast of these optical phenomena, but you make do with what is available and I did see both together.

Last year, I posted two pictures: a cloudbow (taken from a boat), a glory (taken from an aircraft). Although, each showed the same portion of the sky, the antisolar point, they did not show the other phenomenon.

This very wide-angle picture of a cloudbow was taken over a year ago from a boat. It shows most of the bow and a (supposed) reflection, but it does not show a glory. The photo was taken by my son, Alistair M. Fraser.

Also taken about a year ago from a plane is a telephoto shot of a glory. There was no cloudbow in the scene.

Last week, I was on a plane going to the Coast, and there appeared both phenomena. But, both are somewhat faint, possibly due to the thick cloud. The glory is on the left and a portion of the cloud bow is on the right. In a paper entitled, Simulating glories and cloudbows in color, Stanley Gedzelman says, “Glories are generally more distinct for clouds of droplets of as much as ∼10 μm [about 10 microns] in radius. As droplet radius increases, the glory shrinks and becomes less prominent, whereas the cloudbow becomes more distinct and eventually colorful.” So, the cloud in the glory picture above probably had most drops smaller than 10 microns radius, and above that, the cloudbow picture probably had drops very much larger. This just taken picture below, had drops in between in size. However, this scene does show the relative sizes of the two phenomena. (The wing and the edge of aircraft window is also on the left.)


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