Amazing Fire Rainbow Phenomenon: Formation and Mind-blowing Photos of Rainbow Clouds (Circumhorizontal...

Amazing Fire Rainbow Phenomenon: Formation and Mind-blowing Photos of Rainbow Clouds (Circumhorizontal Arc)

Sometimes clouds take on rainbow colors – hazy greens and reds. Fire rainbows are the turbo-charged versions of that. They’re rainbows that seems to be turned into wispy clouds, making them look like sky fires.


fire rainbow Idaho
Fire rainbow Idaho USA

Although fire rainbows are rare, the physics behind them is pretty simple.

horizontal rainbow known as a fire rainbow is pictured above the Paris skyline by Bertrand Kulik, bertrand Kulik, exclusive fire rainbow paris france, fire rainbow, fire rainbow paris, amazimg fire rainbow photo paris, amazing parisian fire rainbow
Fire Rainbow in Paris

Fire rainbows are very, very cool looking. They’re a combination of clouds and rainbows, with the brilliant colors of a rainbow conforming to the contours of a cloud. Since fire rainbows are almost always found in cirrus clouds, the resulting wisps look like curls of flame moving across the sky. How do we get this crazy phenomenon?

amazing Fire Rainbow over Scottland
Fire Rainbow in Scottland

It starts with sun on ice crystals. This is why cirrus clouds are generally the only clouds to display fire rainbows. The clouds have to be far enough up in the air for ice crystals to form, and the sun has to be shining through them in order for the light to reach people on the ground.

Fire rainbow over nepal
Fire rainbow in Nepal

Dark storm clouds blot out the sun and low fog doesn’t contain enough ice crystals to properly refract the light. When they form, ice crystals often make little hexagonal plates.

Fire rainbow in florida
Fire rainbow in Florida

If the sun is at least fifty-eight degrees above the horizon (the optimum angle is 67 degrees), its light hits the top of these plates and is split into different colors. Since the plates only exist in the cloud, and nothing else around it, the entire cloud turns into a self-contained rainbow.

Fire rainbow in Toronton Canada
Fire rainbow in Toronton Canada

If you’re too far north or too far south, you can’t ever see these clouds. Likewise, there are certain times of year where they disappear. The sun doesn’t get high enough in the sky to create them.

Circumhorizon Arc in Portugal
Circumhorizon Arc in Portugal

Still, a few photographers have been there at just the right moment and captured gorgeous photos of them in the sky.

Fire rainbow in Ethiopia
Fire rainbow in Ethiopia

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  1. Where was the fire rainbow Idaho taken…. i would like to share it with my friends as a memorial to all the wildlife Idaho has lost in the last 48 hours…..(along with the last 2 months of fire)…August 2013

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