The power of nature is enormous. There are many natural phenomena occurring all over our Earth, but only some of them are magnificent and interesting. They open our eyes in awe. When such natural phenomena occur in the sky, it can be even more amazing. Sky and space is something that has always left us wondering and has always been a mystery. Do you know how amazing are certain sky phenomena? The collection of sky events here are remarkable and you won’t believe your eyes that nature can be so powerful.
List of 10 beautiful and amazing sky phenomena you won’t believe exists:
10. White Rainbows
White rainbows are rainbows not familiar to many people. This is a type of rainbow that forms from moonlight and not sunlight. Isn’t it interesting? Other names of white rainbow are moonbow and lunar rainbow. Their formation is exactly the same as solar rainbows except the source of light. It forms from refraction of moon light in many droplets of water. They appear exactly opposite to the direction of the moon. Due to the source of light from moon is smaller, these rainbows appear fainter and white to the eye.
They generally appear when moon is nearest to Earth and fuller. The night sky should be very dark and moon must be at their lowest, at least at an elevation of less than 42 degrees. All these combination makes the probability of a moonbow rare in comparison to a solar rainbow. Waimea ‘Kamuela’, Hawaii Island, Hawaii is the best location to view white rainbows.
9. Lenticular Clouds
Lenticular clouds are unique lens or saucer-shaped cloud formations, often seen above mountains. They form perpendicular to the wind direction in the Earth’s troposphere. When wind flows in the same direction continuously and the surrounding air is stable, this amazing cloud formation begins to appear. The undulating downstream wind flow easily condenses the surrounding moist air to form the clouds. They need a huge vertical structure for this formation, either artificial or natural. They do not move and are mostly isolated.
As they form at an altitude of 40,000 ft., they are easily visible from far distances. Sometimes, multiple lenticular clouds can be seen stacked above each other. Since these clouds resemble a UFO, they are a common explanation for UFO sightings around the world. Lenticular clouds are avoided by flight pilots due to the existence of extreme turbulence.
8. Nacreous Clouds, Arctic Environments
Nacreous clouds are part of the arctic environments when the lee waves by mountains cool the lower stratosphere. The dry atmosphere of the stratosphere with below −78 °C (−108 °F) temperatures helps in achieving these incredible cloud formations. Due to the high altitude of the clouds (49,000–82,000 ft.), they receive sunlight from below the horizon giving a rich color. Polar stratospheric cloud (PSC) is the other name of nacreous clouds. These clouds are usually visible two hours before sunset or before dawn. Due to their vivid iridescent colors, sometimes people call it as mother-of-pearl clouds.
7. Morning Glory Clouds, Australia
Morning Glory clouds are a spectacular cloud formation occurring mostly in the Australian sky. The Gulf of Carpentaria in Northern Australia is the only known location in the world where this rare meteorological phenomenon can be predicted. These clouds occasionally do form in other parts of the world. Morning Glory clouds are part of the arcus cloud family which look like beautiful solitary waves or ripples of associated clouds. They form when sea breeze from two directions collide with each other creating a rolling cylinder effect. Rolling cloud is a name for Morning Glory because of their rolling cylinder effects while forming. These clouds stretch for as long as 1 to 2 km. Sometimes, there are groups of rolling clouds or only a single cloud.
Morning Glory clouds are the most sought after clouds by hang gliders. Many hang gliders head to Gulf of Carpentaria every year during October. This is the only cloud in the world where the hang gliders know where to descend making it their favorite cloud.
6. Fire Rainbow
Fire rainbow is a misleading term for this wonderful sky formation. The real name of “fire rainbow” is circumhorizontal arc. They are a type of ice halos and are an optical phenomenon in the sky. They do not have any relation to rainbow or fire. Circumhorizontal arc form when refraction of sun or moonlight pass through plate-shaped ice crystals suspended in the sky. When they form in full, their appearance is bright and has rich gradients of colors running parallel to the horizon.
5. Asperatus Clouds
Asperatus clouds are a new type of spooky and terrifying cloud formation which was popularized and proposed in 2009 by Gavin Pretor-Pinney of the Cloud Appreciation Society. They are formerly known as Undulatus asperatus. The Latin word “asperatus” translates to “roughness” or “harshness” in English. A family of clouds known as undulatus clouds is directly related to these terrifying clouds. These are so terrifying that, it looks like directly from the movie Judgement Day. Due to their harsh appearance, descending sharp points and toughness of a sea, these clouds give dramatic visual illuminations to the audience. Asperatus clouds look like a strong storm is about to hit with dark sky adding to the drama, but they dissipate without a storm quickly. They are mostly seen in Plains states of the United States.
Aurora is one of the most magical phenomena in the sky. They have names such as polar lights, northern lights and southern lights. Aurora borealis or the northern lights are the best in terms of their display and illumination. Aurora is a natural light display which forms commonly in the high-latitude regions such as Arctic and Antarctic.
The burning sun having temperatures of 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius) release what is known as solar wind. Solar winds are particles that escape into space from sunspots. The solar wind takes 40 hours to reach Earth and the result is the breathtaking display of aurora. This magnificent display of lights not only occurs on Earth but also on other planets in our solar system.
3. Mammatus Cloud
Mammatus cloud is scary and mysterious. Nobody knows how they form. Meteorologist William Clement Ley first described the formation of mammatus cloud in 1894. They have a strange appearance of cell pouches hanging from the base of another cloud. These beautiful clouds form under different environment and sky conditions. There are several theories on how they form and nobody has ever been able to explain this mysterious sky phenomenon. One of the theories explains about cold air sinking down to form pockets of clouds through convection of warm air. Since, they are a form of cumulonimbus rainclouds, mammatus clouds can be dangerous and is an indication of strong storm. Aviators are always cautioned to fly when mammatus clouds appear in the sky.
2. Green Flash
Green flash is a beautiful optical phenomenon just after sunset or right before sunrise. The sky conditions should be perfect with a distant horizon, and then the possibility of a green flash is evident. The perfect place to view a green flash is on a sea horizon. That is the reason why many people living near sea area often report seeing them. Green flash occurs as the Earth’s atmosphere has the ability to separate out different colors from the sunlight. There are different types of green flashes and each of them may appear differently. The most common green flash is the one seen after sunset i.e. when the sun is entirely below the horizon.
1. Light Pillars
Light pillars are the most amazing sky phenomenon in the world. They are vertical band of lights appearing from a light source. It is an atmospheric optical phenomenon which is formed by the reflection of light from numerous tiny ice crystals in the clouds. They are from the family of halos. Similar to halos, light pillars aren’t physically above the lights but are the combined light beams from all the thousands of tiny ice crystals. Majority of the light pillars occur due to sunlight, so they have the name sun pillars or solar pillars. The source of light for light pillars can also be moon or any other terrestrial lights. Extreme cold weathers can sometimes cause light pillars.