July 16, 2014 - Spaceweather.com
Frequent fliers who look out the window of their planes often see the shadow of the aircraft dipping in and out of clouds below. The interplay of light and shadow with water droplets in the clouds can produce colorful rings of light called "glories." On July 13th, Tony DeFreece saw a glory that was not a colorful ring, but rather a heart.
"I was flying over Oregon when I looked out and saw this heart-shaped figure," he says. "It was one of those moments when the Universe aligns and takes your breath away."
DeFreece suspects, probably correctly, that the shape of the clouds bent the usual circular glory into the heart-shaped apparition. Mystery solved? Not entirely. Glories are caused by sunlight reflected backwards from water droplets in clouds. Exactly how backscattering produces the colorful rings, however, is a mystery involving surface waves and multiple reflections within individual droplets. Each sighting is a lovely puzzle, so grab the window seat and keep an eye on the clouds below.
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