Coronas and Iridescent Clouds

Joseph A. Shaw and Paul J. Neiman

Coronas and iridescence occur when light is diffracted by small particles of liquid water or ice in the atmosphere. Diffraction colors are particularly vivid in mountain wave clouds because of the small particles and narrow particle-size distributions. The photographs shown here provide evidence that wave cloud diffraction displays are often created by unusually tiny, quasi-spherical ice particles.

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