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Iridescent Clouds

Iridescent Clouds mind map
Recent News
Rainbow clouds in UK
Date
21 December 2023
Location
Above the UK
Edinburgh sighting
Witness
Lindsay Mackenna
Described as "gorgeous"
What
Nature of Phenomenon
Optical phenomenon
Appears near Sun or Moon
Formation
Cloud Types
Altocumulus
Cirrocumulus
Lenticular
Cirrus
Conditions Required
Thin cloud
Uniform water droplets
Small ice crystals
Mechanism
Diffraction of light
Scattering sun's light
Iridescence
Sunlight diffracted
Different wavelengths spread
Interference patterns
Light and dark fringes
Characteristics
Colours
Pastel
Vivid
Mother-of-pearl
Visibility
Best seen
Before sunrise
After sunset
Difficult near Sun
Enhanced viewing
Sunglasses
Reflections in water
Convex mirror
Where
Stratosphere
Height
12 to 19 miles above earth
Geographic Distribution
Polar regions
Various parts of the world
High concentration of water droplets
Ice crystals in atmosphere
How
Temperature Conditions
-78C (-108F) for formation
Sun's Angle
Low on horizon
Enhances iridescence
Significance
Atmospheric Insight
Composition of Earth's atmosphere
Properties of atmospheric particles
Optical Study
Interaction of light
Atmospheric particles
Challenges
Rarity
Specific conditions needed
Difficulty in Observation
Sun's glare
Transient nature
Way Forward
Continued Research
Advanced instruments
Computer models
Public Awareness
Educational value
Appreciation of natural phenomena

Iridescent clouds, also known as rainbow clouds, are a stunning atmospheric phenomenon that appear near the Sun or Moon. These clouds form under specific conditions in the stratosphere, typically at heights of 12 to 19 miles above the Earth. They are characterized by their brilliant, pastel or vivid colors, which are caused by the diffraction and interference of light passing through small, uniform water droplets or ice crystals in the cloud. These clouds are more likely to be seen in polar regions during winter and are best observed before sunrise or after sunset. Studying these clouds provides valuable insights into the composition and properties of the Earth’s atmosphere and the intricate interactions of light with atmospheric particles. However, their rarity and the difficulty in observing them due to factors like the Sun’s glare present challenges.

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