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Issue 82 - May 2008 - Page 13

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Protests Against Starving Dog Art Exhibition
  2. Mini Lobster Contamination Warning
  3. Economic Stimulus Refund Phishing Scam
  4. Refugee Monthly Allowance From Australian Government Hoax
  5. "What Do People Fear Most?" - Magazine Survey Email Hoax
  6. United States District Court Subpoena Malware Email
  7. Simon Ashton Email Hacker Hoax
  8. Elephant Painting Portrait Video
  9. New Prison Photographs - Prison vs Work
  10. Nareepol Tree
  11. Pearl Harbor Box Brownie Photographs
  12. British High Court Disclaim Form Lottery Scam
  13. Fire Rainbow Photograph
  14. Self Parking Garage
  15. Indian Two Faced Baby

Issue 82 Start Menu

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Fire Rainbow Photograph

Summary:
Email claims that an attached photograph depicts a very rare atmospheric phenomenon called a "fire rainbow" (Full commentary below).



Status:
True

Example:(Submitted, May 2008)
Subject: Fw: Fire Rainbow

THIS IS A FIRE RAINBOW - THE RAREST OF ALL NATURALLY OCCURRING ATMOSPHERIC PHENOMENA. THE PICTURE WAS CAPTURED THIS WEEK ON THE IDAHO/WASHINGTON BORDER. THE EVENT LASTED ABOUT 1 HOUR.

CLOUDS HAVE TO BE CIRRUS, AT LEAST 20K FEET IN THE AIR, WITH JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF ICE CRYSTALS AND THE SUN HAS TO HIT THE CLOUDS AT PRECISELY 58 DEGREES FROM THE OBSERVER, MUCH LIKE LOOKING AT A RAINBOW.


Fire Rainbow




Commentary:
This email forward includes a photograph showing a very colourful cloud formation. The text of the email claims that the photograph depicts a very rare natural phenomenon known as a "fire rainbow". Although some have suggested that the image has been "photoshopped", it is in fact perfectly genuine and fire rainbows are a real phenomena.

According to an article on the National Geographic News website, this particular fire rainbow was caught on film on June 3 2006 in northern Idaho not far from the Washington State border. A fire rainbow is more technically called a "circumhorizontal arc" or "circumhorizon arc" by weather scientists.

A circumhorizontal arc only appears when a specific set of atmospheric conditions occur. The display is caused when light entering hexagonal ice crystals in the clouds is refracted. But, for a fire rainbow to appear, the sun must be very high in the sky, the clouds must be high altitude cirrus clouds and the ice crystals must be shaped like thick plates and aligned with their faces parallel to the ground.

Thus, fire rainbows are indeed quite rare, although it is probably an exaggeration to describe them as "the rarest of all naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena". A Scienceline article discussing another fire rainbow photograph taken on the same day as the one shown above notes that even diligent weather watches in the United States might only see one or two circumhorizontal arcs in a given year. A list of relative frequency for rare atmospheric halos published on the Atmospheric Optics website shows that circumhorizon arcs (circumhorizontal arcs) occur very infrequently. However, others such as the Kern Arc and the Lowitz Arc may be even more infrequent.

Another spectacular shot of a circumhorizontal arc taken in Canada in 2003 is available on the Atmospheric Optics website.

References:
Photo in the News: Rare "Rainbow" Spotted Over Idaho
Halo of Many Hues
Infrequent Halos
Circumhorizon arc

Previous Article            Next Article

Issue 82 Start Menu

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Protests Against Starving Dog Art Exhibition
  2. Mini Lobster Contamination Warning
  3. Economic Stimulus Refund Phishing Scam
  4. Refugee Monthly Allowance From Australian Government Hoax
  5. "What Do People Fear Most?" - Magazine Survey Email Hoax
  6. United States District Court Subpoena Malware Email
  7. Simon Ashton Email Hacker Hoax
  8. Elephant Painting Portrait Video
  9. New Prison Photographs - Prison vs Work
  10. Nareepol Tree
  11. Pearl Harbor Box Brownie Photographs
  12. British High Court Disclaim Form Lottery Scam
  13. Fire Rainbow Photograph
  14. Self Parking Garage
  15. Indian Two Faced Baby