So-called "fire rainbows" are neither on fire nor are they rainbows, but they sure are stunning.

They are technically known as iridescent clouds, a relatively rare phenomenon caused by clouds of water droplets of nearly uniform size, according to a release by NASA. These clouds diffract, or bend, light in a similar manner, which separates out light into different wavelengths, or colors.

That makes them similar to rainbow-colored glories, which are also formed by diffraction, and also produce an oscillating pattern of colors ranging from blue to green to red to purple and back to blue again.

The phenomenon was captured in this spectacular photo taken on Tuesday (July 31) in the clouds over South Florida.

Although iridescent clouds have rainbow-like colors, the way light is scattered to produce them is slightly different. Rainbows are formed by refraction and reflection. When light is refracted, it is bent by passing through mediums of different densities, such as water or a prism. Reflected light bounces off a surface at an angle equal to the angle it hit the surface at. Diffraction, though, involves light waves being scattered into a ring-like pattern.

As with other iridescent objects, like peacock feathers, the color changes depending upon one's position relative to the sun and the object.

Photo Source

Iridescence usually occurs in newly formed clouds. That appears to be the case here as well. According to the Weather Channel, these are pileus clouds caused by a fast-growing thunderstorm that shoved air into the upper atmosphere through a layer of moisture. This created a fog-like cloud that looks like a glowing dome atop the thunderstorm.

Iridescent clouds are not to be confused with circumhorizontal arcs, which form bands of color parallel to the horizon. (Via Our Amazing Planet)

Other Fire Rainbow Photos:

Fire rainbow Idaho

The Fire Rainbow An Astonishing and Rare Marvel of Nature

Responses to "'Fire rainbow' spotted over south Florida"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely beautiful ! That is amazing and so gorgeous Thanks for sharing

  2. Anonymous says:

    So beautiful.

  3. Kat says:

    These are amazing, I'm in Florida so I hope one day I have a chance to witness a fire rainbow.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The glory of Nature unveiled !! I hope I see one in California !

  5. Anonymous says:

    Nature, pure nature, is so beautiful and exciting. Thank you for sharing the photographs and information.

  6. Anonymous says:

    These are so gorgeous. Never saw anything like them.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I'm sorry to say That it could be HARRP mixed in with the Chemical Trailing they're will cause the rainbow effect!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I'm sorry to say That it could be HARRP mixed in with the Chemical Trailing they're will cause the rainbow effect! If it is then that is not a good sign for no cause weather change which cause it to be OFF BALANCE and cause so much harm and disasters throughout the world. ITS DECEPTION to all people!

  9. Unknown says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Our God is such a wonderful and talented (understatement) artist. He has made the Earth such a magnificent place, its horrible what the human hands have done to it. Its just plain sad.

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