Friday, December 10, 2010


Ice Crystal Sundown, Jamestown, NC

A mid December sunset presents the rare opportunity to catch frozen ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere, refracting the long light rays of the setting sun on the horizon. The resultant "fire rainbows" only appear in wispy cirrus clouds suspended at least 20,000 feet high and the sun's rays must hit the ice crystals at precisely 58 degrees for maximum effect. The image literally looks like flames waving in the wind above a prairie grass fire.

I first noticed a spectacular fire rainbow on the horizon as I was cruising along the interstate with no reasonable place to pull off the road. But I did have a camera in the glove box for just such a "lucky moment" and I was able to capture the dissolving image before it morphed into the dark night.

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