Close
Photographs of an In-Flight Rainbow Phenomenon Called a ‘Glory’

Photographs of an In-Flight Rainbow Phenomenon Called a ‘Glory’

Glories are beautiful full-circle rainbows seen above the clouds

Recently on an early morning flight, I witnessed a natural phenomenon I’d never seen — or even heard about before. “Glories” are circular rainbows, similar to halos, but they appear on tops of clouds under the right conditions. Most of the time they appear as a halo around the shadow of an airplane being cast onto a cloud (see some examples of that here). Here’s a great piece about glories from NASA.

In my case, the glory rainbow was pretty far away and I couldn’t detect a shadow of the plane, but perhaps there was enough of a shadow being cast to create the glory rainbow effect.

iPhone photograph of a fully circular rainbow known as a "glory." Photograph by Keith Dotson.
iPhone photograph of a fully circular rainbow known as a “glory.” Photograph by Keith Dotson.
The full-circle rainbow followed along with my flight for several minutes. Photograph by Keith Dotson.
The full-circle rainbow followed along with my flight for several minutes. Photograph by Keith Dotson.
In this photograph, the glory seems to be split across two levels of clouds. Photograph by Keith Dotson.
In this photograph, the glory seems to be split across two levels of clouds. Photograph by Keith Dotson.

Conditions at the time of this sighting

On the occasion of my first-ever glory rainbow sighting, my flight was at 35,000 feet — well above the clouds — heading southwest (from Boston to Nashville) right at sunrise on January 4.

Thanks for reading!

Be sure to visit me on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest, or on my website at keithdotson.com.

~ Keith

Leave a Reply

Close