Glory from an airplane window

2d ago

You just never know what you’ll see when you take a picture of the Earth from space. German astronaut Alex Gerst must’ve been pretty surprised when he looked out the space station window and saw a 35-kilometer-long seahorse blowing a rainbow bubble! That


More info: Flying home from Texas in January, 2012, I saw a fantastic glory out my airplane window. These are circular, colorful haloes that are similar to (but not the same as) rainbows. I had to fiddle with the audio to suppress airplane noise and also enhance the color a bit to show the glory. Because it's hard to hear me, here's the transcript: "Hey, Phil Plait from here. I'm actually on an airplane at about 32,000 feet (10000 meters) up. I'm flying home from giving some talks in Tyler, Texas. I looked out the window and it's pretty cloudy out there, we're somewhere over maybe northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, it's hard to say I don't exactly where but it's pretty cloudy way down below us. As I'm looking out I'm seeing something pretty cool. Let me reverse the camera and show you this. There, do you see it? There's a circle of light just under those clouds where I've got the frame centered. And it's colorful, I can see a red ring, yellow, green, and then it's bright in the center. That's called a glory. It's an optical effect where light hits clouds and gets bent directly back toward you. And it only happens when there're certain types of clouds. I see it from airplanes all the time but this is the first time I had a video camera ready to go. You can see it getting brighter and fainter as the clouds change as we move. I've taken some pictures of it and it looks pretty clear sometimes and other times it completely disappears. But this only happens when you're looking straight the path of sunlight so right now the sun is directly behind me and I'm looking straight down the path. The sunlight hits the cloud, it gets bent internally inside of the cloud ice crystals or water droplets and then it comes straight back. See now it's fading; you can hardly see it at all."