False Sunrise

What you’re looking at above is not a real sunrise, but rather a dawn sundog, which refers to particular kind of ice crystal halo. This atmospheric optical phenomenon is associated with the reflection or refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds in the very particular case when the sun is still below the horizon. The spread light of a false sunrise has less power than that of a real sun, but sometimes is amazingly similar in its visual behavior at distance. It is similar to a subsun, except that in a false sunrise the sun is below the horizon and the ice crystals are above it. Continue reading for more.

5. Light Pillar

Light Pillar

A light pillar is a visual phenomenon created by the reflection of light from ice crystals with near horizontal parallel planar surfaces. The light can come from the Sun (usually at or low to the horizon) in which case the phenomenon is called a sun pillar or solar pillar. It can also come from the Moon or from terrestrial sources such as streetlights.

4. False Sunset

False Sunset

A false sunset is an atmospheric optical phenomenon associated with the reflection and refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds in the very particular case when the late-afternoon sun is still a few degrees above the horizon. The region of ice crystals acts as a large mirror, creating a virtual image of the sun which appears to be touching the horizon. Refraction happens also as sunlight enters the ice crystal, and may cause the virtual image of the sun to have a different chromacity. The light of a false sunset has less power than that of a real sun, but sometimes is amazingly similar in its visual behavior at distance.

3. Virga

Virga

In meteorology, virga is an observable streak or shaft of precipitation that falls from a cloud but evaporates or sublimes before reaching the ground. At high altitudes the precipitation falls mainly as ice crystals before melting and finally evaporating, causing a hole in the sky. This particular virga was captured in the Gippsland region of Australia.

2. Moonbow

Moonbow

A moonbow is a rainbow produced by light reflected off the surface of the moon refracting off of moisture laden clouds in the atmosphere. Moonbows are relatively faint, due to the smaller amount of light reflected from the surface of the moon. They are always in the opposite part of the sky from the moon.

1. Fallstreak Hole

Hole Punch Cloud

A fallstreak hole is a large circular or elliptical gap that can appear in cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds. Such holes are formed when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing but the water has not frozen yet due to the lack of ice nucleation particles. Because of their rarity and unusual appearance, as well as very little exposure in media, fallstreak holes are often mistaken for or attributed to unidentified flying objects.