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[Phys-L] Re: Rainbow serpent question

There's a phenomenon called a "sun dog" that is caused by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. It takes the form of a bright, often rainbow-colored vertically elongated spot to the side of the sun, or a pair of spots with one on either side of the sun. Sun dogs don't have much curvature. If the clouds weren't uniform in thickness or height, perhaps a zig-zag could be seen. True rainbows are most commonly seen when the sun is low in the sky. Since this was seen at noon, a sun dog, sun pillar, or similar ice-crystal phenomenon is more likely.


-----Original Message-----
From: Forum for Physics Educators []On
Behalf Of Gary Turner
Sent: Monday, March 21, 2005 1:13 PM
Subject: Rainbow serpent question

On another newsgroup, somebody reported a "wavy rainbow" or rainbow-serpent
phenomenon, a line of rainbow colors that zig-zagged, but was otherwise flat
(no overall curvature). I can't explain it, has anyone come across this
before? Apparently, this was fairly high in the sky, around noon (so I'm
thinking upper atmospheric phenomenon rather than a rainbow) somewhere
around New Mexico.
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