Why is the sky orange 54 3

Atmospheric color phenomena

Sun, sky and clouds
Iridescent clouds, aureoles
Blue aureole
Circumzenital arcs
Parasols and halos
Pillar of light

Sun, sky and clouds

These two recordings of a sunset were made within a few seconds. The red sun still appears white in the left photo due to overexposure. Only when the exposure is so short that almost nothing can be seen of the rest of the sky does the camera reproduce the color in a manner similar to what the eye sees (right picture).

In a hazy atmosphere, the sunlight can be dampened so much that its color appears correctly in photos. Then the setting sun appears orange-red or, if the air layers close to the ground are more clouded, also pink-red. (The blue-gray of the scattered light, which makes up the color of the sky next to the sun, is superimposed to pink with the orange-red light coming straight from the sun.)

On a slightly hazy day: the sun disappears behind trees on the horizon

A sunset on the North Sea

Colorful sunset over the Baltic Sea. Photo © H. Zawischa

Before sunrise (Oderberg, July 28, 2006, 4:50 a.m. CEST):

Back to the text "Scattering".

Lunar eclipse of February 21, 2008

Left: Before entering the earth's shadow. Middle: At 3:59 a.m. CET, shortly before the complete entry into the umbra, the moon can still be clearly seen through a delicate veil of clouds (in Wunstorf near Hanover). Right: 4:05 a.m. CET. Completely in the shade and just before disappearing behind the thickening clouds.

Back to the text "Scattering (lunar eclipse)".

Iridescent clouds

Left: Clouds, taken near Hanover on July 30, 2005, 6:34 p.m. CEST.
Right: Detail enlargement.
At a small angular distance from the sun, the delicate clouds shimmer brightly in "mother-of-pearl" colors.

Clouds, taken near Hanover on August 2, 2005, 6:35 p.m. CEST. The dark area above is blue sky.

Wunstorf, October 27, 2005.
Left: 12:44 p.m. CEST (large picture), right: 12:45 p.m. CEST (large picture)

Wunstorf, October 29, 2005, 10:20 a.m. CEST

Back to the text "diffraction / iridescent clouds"

Often you can see the sun shining through the clouds so faintly that you can photograph it. The immediate surroundings of the sun appear bluish.
The images above are from August 8, 2005 at 2:06 p.m. and 4:02 p.m. (CEST).

Left: August 27, 2005, 12:15 pm, Right: September 15, 2005, 1:31 pm

Back to the text diffraction / blue aureole.


Rainbow, summer 1978, Carinthia. The recordings were made in quick succession; in the second picture the curve is a bit weaker at the lower end. (Big picture)

Wunstorf, May 31, 2005, 7:28 p.m. CEST Wunstorf, April 2nd. 2006, 4:54 p.m. CEST
Hanover, May 23, 2006, 8:38 p.m. CEST
Hanover, Maschsee fountain. August 17, 2006, 6:51 pm CEST
Hanover, August 29, 2006, 7:34 p.m. CEST (sun height 5.6º). Panorama Montage: AutoStitch

Wunstorf, October 7, 2006, 5:45 p.m. CEST  Wunstorf, February 28, 2007, 5:42 pm

Hanover, July 4, 2007, 8:55 p.m. CEST

Back to the text "rainbow"

Circumzenital arcs

Circumzenital arch in Hanover, June 20, 2005.

Circumzenital arc in Hanover, June 20, 2005. Initially inconspicuous, it changed quickly with the movement of the clouds. After about half an hour the cloud thickened and the arch slowly disappeared. Photos © D. Zawischa.

On November 2nd, 2005 (in Wunstorf, at a sun height of 20.5º) a circumzenital arc could be seen for three minutes:

Wunstorf, October 9, 2006: a circumzenital arc lights up, fades after a while and then reappears. The pictures show the highlights:

Wunstorf, October 11, 2006, 11:27 a.m. CESTWunstorf, May 20, 2007, 7:02 p.m. CEST
Wunstorf, May 31, 2007, 6:27 p.m. CEST

Back to the text "Circumzenital Arc"


Left: Side sun, taken in Hanover, June 22, 2005, 8:42 p.m. CEST.
Right: Detail enlargement. Photo (c) D. Zawischa.

Left: Wunstorf (near Hanover), July 10, 2005, 7:27 p.m. CEST.
Right: Detail enlargement.

Hanover, July 20, 2005. Left: 8:19 p.m. CEST (large picture)
Right: 8:20 p.m. CEST (large picture).

Left: Wunstorf, July 28, 2005, 7:49 p.m. CEST
Right: Wunstorf, August 28, 2005, 1:30 p.m. CEST at a sun elevation of 47.3º. Unfortunately, the picture is a bit overexposed, so the sundeck does not appear as colorful as it was in reality.

Left: Wunstorf, September 14, 2005, 10:14 a.m. CEST
Right: Wunstorf, October 27, 2005, 4:14 p.m. CEST

Wunstorf, August 19, 2006, 7:34 p.m. CEST

Back to the text "Nebensonnen"

22º halo and touch arc

Left: Upper contact arc (and 22º halo), Wunstorf, August 28, 2005, approx. 1:40 p.m. CEST (sun height 47.2º)
Right: 22 ° halo. Wunstorf, August 28, 2005, 4:30 p.m.

Upper contact arc and 22º halo, Wunstorf, September 13, 2005.
Left: 1:36 p.m. CEST Right: 3:20 pm.

Left: Upper contact arc and upper part of the 22º halo, Wunstorf, November 2, 2005, 8:33 am CET, sun elevation 8.8º. Right: Upper contact arc, 22º halo and weak left side sun, Wunstorf, May 30, 2006, 7:52 p.m. CEST (sun height 12.5º)

22º halo, top touch arc, and 46º halo

        Wunstorf, January 23, 2007,
12:37 p.m. CET

Pillar of light

Wunstorf, September 19, 2008, 7:39 p.m. CEST. The sun has already set and is already 1.9º below the horizon. It illuminates the underside of the clouds. These contain platelet-shaped ice crystals that are preferably aligned horizontally and reflect the sunlight as a column of light or a street of light. The geometry is similar to the creation of a light road on the water (picture on the right), only the top and bottom need to be swapped.

Left: Wunstorf, April 27, 2006, 8:41 p.m. CEST. Right: Hanover, July 12, 2006, 10:01 p.m. CEST.
Light from the setting (left) or the sun that has already set is reflected in floating ice flakes and forms a pillar of light. (In the right picture the sun is already 3º below the horizon)

Back to the text "Minors"

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