Inside WRAL

A 'psychedelic cloud'

Posted December 30, 2009
Updated October 12, 2011

GOLO member celticsubnoize wrote a blog Tuesday night and posted this really cool picture of a "psychedelic cloud," as he calls it.

He, along with several of you, wondered what this strange thing is called. Some guessed that it's called a "fire rainbow or a "sun dog."

Well, you asked and WRAL meteorologists Elizabeth Gardner and Mike Moss have answered:

"I don’t think fire rainbow is a recognized term. Circumhorizon arc is the proper term for what some have called a fire rainbow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumhorizontal_arc. Circumhorizon Arcs happen during the summer when the sun is high in the sky. If this picture was taken recently it would not be a circumhorizon arc," according to Elizabeth.

"This doesn't appear to be a sun dog, or 'parhelia,' either. I'm pretty sure it's a nice example of 'iridescence' or 'iridescent cloud,'" Mike said. "See these two addresses for more images and background info - http://www.atoptics.co.uk/droplets/irid1.htm and http://www.atoptics.co.uk/droplets/iridim0.htm."

Celticsubnoize, I hope this answers your question. Thanks for writing in!

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