Written By Nikita Chandola.
The year gone has not been the greatest friend to the explorers, the wanderers, the travel junkies and the adventurers. The only reminder of the good old days we had was the sky we looked at from the confines of our home and star- gazing became the favourite activity (at least for me.
It protected my sanity). All the stargazing made me realize that while we plan our trips according to monuments, food and fun activities, we forget to acknowledge what all the blue sky has to offer.
So as we hope for this year to bring forth much-needed relief from confinement and a bunch of new experiences along, here’s a list of a few natural phenomena that you can witness around the world.
1. Circumhorizontal Arc
If someone asks you the question, what looks like an inverted rainbow but isn’t, the answer is circumhorizontal arc. Neither a rainbow nor related to fire, this phenomena is infamously called the fire rainbow. Formed due to the refraction of sunlight or that of the moon on the surface of ice plates suspended in the atmosphere, these ice- halos have the appearance of a large, rainbow-coloured band.
Apart from the fact that these arcs are inverted, i. e., red is the first colour in the band, another way to differentiate them from the rainbows is that they are visible much closer to the horizon rather than being suspended high in the sky.
The arc is not an uncommon view in the US but as you move towards the northern hemisphere, it becomes a very rare phenomenon and you’d be pretty lucky to witness it. I hope luck is on your side.
Earth’s own light show, auroras are known around the world as polar lights, northern lights or southern lights. Due to the disturbances caused in the magnetosphere by the solar winds, lights of a range of colours are emitted from the atmospheric particles.
Of all the wish lists and the bucket lists in this world, you are sure to find “witness the northern lights” in most of them. It, however, takes much planning if one has to witness the beauty of the auroras. It is advised to plan the sighting in winters, preferably the onset of winters when the nights are longer.
Also, make sure you choose a location with less light pollution and a moonless night. This natural light is predominantly witnessed in high altitude regions like Norway, Alaska, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Canada to name some. Canada is definitely a paradise for aurora tourism and activities surrounding it with a village named Aurora.
Nacreous clouds, also known as the mother of pearl clouds, are beautifully fascinating phenomena of the sky. Nacreous clouds, in the simplest sense, are floating ice crystals formed in the stratosphere which are aided by the setting sun in emitting different colours.
An occurrence of the chilly winters, these clouds are a common occurrence in Antarctica and have also been witnessed in Canada, Alaska and Scandinavian countries. These clouds, however, are well suited for the saying “Not all that glitters is Gold.”
Nacreous clouds are very harmful to our atmosphere as they cause the destruction of the ozone layer. Maybe it’s time we lay on the grass, look at the sky and ponder on our actions. While you’re at it, you could spot one of these clouds and witness its beauty with a conflicting heart.
4. Lenticular Clouds
Next time you visit the mountains, look at the crest and try to spot the lenticular clouds. These saucer or lens-shaped clouds bring along with them strong gusts of winds. You might confuse them as UFOs, but look closely, it just might not be.
These clouds are formed when stable moist air flows over a mountain range. These clouds can be seen in winters or spring when fast-moving winds are formed. The most fascinating thing is that these clouds remain steady while surrounded by fast-moving winds. You might sometimes witness these clouds on plain land as well and voila, it’s your lucky day.
5. Catatumbo Lightening
The few occasional flashes of lightning on a fine rainy day are such a beautiful sight to see. Now imagine being able to witness constant lightning for ten hours in a day. A little bizarre and definitely a sight to see, Catatumbo lightning occurs over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it merges into Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.
The lightning occurs 120 to 140 nights per year and you should plan on visiting accordingly. The visiting season is between May and November, October driving the highest number of tourists. You can spend some amazing time also including attractions like Angel Falls, Los Roques Archipelago and Margarita Islands on your list.
Also Read: Top 10 Dark Tourism Places To Visit In India.
6. Light Pillars
An optical illusion, a light pillar, is formed when a beam of light appears to be extended above or below a light source. The effect is seen when light is reflected from the crystals of ice in the atmosphere. The reflection from the sun is called Solar Pillar.
When occurring with a parhelic circle, the pillars form a cross in the sky and hence in the medieval times were often considered to be a bad omen.
You will be able to see sun pillars at any time in the night, which means during or after sunset when the sun is at the horizon. Seeing this natural phenomenon feels like you are in between the colourful waterfalls, experiencing a mesmerizing few of sky.
7. Sun Dog
If you are well aware of the meaning of the word Halo, then Sun dog or Mock Sun won’t be difficult to understand because this awe-struck natural phenomenon which the sky but it will definitely be something to watch in the sky which will make you awe-struck.
This atmospheric phenomenon happens when light is reflected or refracted because of ice crystals in the atmosphere. This phenomenon you will see in the form of a halo where two glowing patches are on either side of the sun at 22-degree celsius.
It is a rare phenomenon which you can see mostly when the Sun is at the horizon and can see it in any part of the world. It is not visible all the time, the side facing or near to the Sun is seen in reddish colour, farther side sun dogs are more bluish and whitish in colour.
8. Crepuscular Rays
This is one of the natural phenomena which you definitely must have experienced, and you might have also said it to be ‘God rays’ or blessings from God. Crepuscular rays are noticeable when there is a contrast between the sky and rays, the sunbeams originate when the Sun is below the horizon line.
Crepuscular has come from the Latin word ‘crepusculum’ meaning twilight. It most accurately symbolises that light can be applied after-sunset but practically you can see it any time of the day (though I have experienced it mostly during sunsets).
The beams are mostly bluish and whitish in colour and it definitely makes you want to bring your cameras and capture the perfect moment of the sky. Sunbeams are more prominent by the particles of dust and smoke in the air.
Whenever we talk about the climax, it also comes with its anticlimax moment, when you see crepuscular rays with just the moment of your eye in the opposite direction of the Sun you can also see anti crepuscular rays, the streaks which are the shadow of clouds.
This natural phenomena of the sky are the most frequently occurring one and you must have definitely experienced it, if not make sure next time when you see you don’t forget to capture it.
9. Green Flash
If you have watched this natural phenomenon of the sun in the sky then you are the lucky ones on this planet because unlike others it occurs for a few seconds. It is a phenomenon in which a part of the Sun changes colour and transforms into green.
And it is mostly seen during sunset or sunrise, it is caused by the refraction of sunlight when light travels through Earth’s atmosphere more and it is during sunset or sunrise. It is said that other colours than green are also seen as per the light rays refract and their wavelength, but mostly green colour is seen and captured.
There are four categories of green flash a mock mirage, inferior mirage, green-ray and subduct flash. However, the green flash is rarely seen where you’ll see a beam of green light shoot immediately after the sun sets for about a second.
10. Mammatus Clouds
You must have always thought of jumping on the clouds whenever you see them from an airplane, and also thought of how fluffy they are and wished you could touch it (because I always think about it). Mammatus clouds are just the way you draw clouds in your books (yes, it looks exactly like you imagined right now).
It is also called ‘mammary clouds’ which are a rare formation. It is a pattern of pouches that looks like hanging from the base of the clouds. They are formed by cold air when surrounded by warm air sinking into forming pockets.
They are often said as harbingers of the upcoming storm, though they look quite foreboding they are just said to be like a messenger about whether. Looking at such natural phenomenon in the sky definitely makes you wonder if this is true or are you just in some weird dream, but it’s 100% reality that happens in the sky.
Such phenomena in the sky make you realize how unpredictable it can be but at the same time it brings out so many emotions within you when you see such natural phenomenon happening around you.
Also Read: Unsolved Mysteries Of The Bermuda Triangle
Feature Image Credit- Gold Paint Photography
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Nikita Chandola is a media student and a fashion enthusiast, who has a passionate dream of seeing the world and all that it has to offer. She is an introvert who chooses to be selectively outspoken, and is also a good listener. She also loves listening to music, reading books and sometimes sketching. She is a mountain person, so much that she plans to settle in the mountains in future.