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Atmospheric Phenomena

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37 facts:

Airglow
   is/are   
A Weak Emission of Light by the Earth's Atmosphere
As a result, the night sky is never completely dark. It was first noticed in 1868 by Anders Ångström.
Alexander's Band
   is/are   
The Dark Area Between Rainbows
Caused by the deviation angles of primary and secondary rainbows
The Aurora Australis
   is/are   
A Glow in the Southern Sky
Caused by a collision of charged particles with atoms in the upper atmosphere
The Aurora Borealis
   is/are   
A Glow in the Northern Sky
Caused by a collision of charged particles with atoms in the upper atmosphere
Blue Jets
   is/are   
Light Flashes Observed Above Thunderstorms
Blue jets differ from sprites in that they project from the top of the cumulonimbus above a thunderstorm, typically in a narrow cone, to the lowest levels of the ionosphere 40 to 50 km (25 to 30 miles) above the earth. In addition, whereas red sprites tend to be associated with significant lightning strikes, blue jets do not appear to be directly triggered by lightning. They are also brighter than sprites and blue in colour.
Brocken Spectre
   is/are   
Enormously Magnified Shadow of an Observer, Cast Upon the Upper Surfaces of Clouds Opposite the Sun
German (Brockengespenst), also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre
Brown Mountain Lights
   is/are   
Balls of As Yet Unexplained Light in North Carolina
Seen for several hundred years, investigated twice by the United States Geological Society, with no solution
CZA
   is/are   
A Colourful Halo in the Shape of One-quarter of a Circle
Circumzenithal Arc.
ELVES
   is/are   
A Dim, Flattened Glow in the Ionosphere over Thunderstorms
Around 400 km (250 miles) in diameter that lasts for, typically, just one millisecond. They occur in the ionosphere 100 km (60 miles) above the ground over thunderstorms. Elves is a frivolous acronym for Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations From Electromagnetic Pulse Sources. ELVES were first recorded on a shuttle mission in 1990.
Fata Morgana
   is/are   
A Mirage in Which Distant Objects Appear Elevated and Elongated
Results from temperature inversion
Fogbow
   is/are   
A White or Yellowish Arc Appearing in Fog Opposite the Sun
Aka Seadog
Glory
   is/are   
Concentric Rings of Colour Made by Water and Sunlight
A glory is caused by the scattering of sunlight by a cloud made of water droplets that are all roughly the same size. It always appears in the spot directly opposite the Sun, from the perspective of the viewer.
A Green Flash
   is/are   
The Prismatic Effect of the Setting Sun
Usually observed just before the sun's top edge disappears below the horizon
Halo
   is/are   
Light Appearing to Encircle Celestial Bodies
Caused by the refraction and reflection of ice particles in the atmosphere
The Harvest Moon
   is/are   
The Full Moon Nearest to the Autumnal Equinox Appears Brighter
This is an illusion. The yellow or golden or orangish or reddish color of the moon shortly after it rises is a physical effect, which stems from the fact that, when you see the moon low in the sky, you are looking at it through a greater amount of atmosphere than when the moon is overhead. Northern hemisphere around September 23rd, Southern hemisphere around March 21st. Known as the harvest moon because it rises close to sunset giving extra light to farmers harvesting crops.
Heat Lightning
   is/are   
Lightning Seen, but Too Distant for Thunder to Be Heard
Misnamed as it was originally thought to be caused by heat. 'Heat lightning' comes from very distant but regular storms. If a lightning strike is a sufficient distance from the observer, sound from the strike will not be heard.
Inferior Mirage
   is/are   
A Mirage Appears Below the True Object
Light rays coming from a particular distant object all travel through nearly the same air layers and all are bent over about the same amount. Therefore rays coming from the top of the object will come less high than those from the bottom. The image usually is upside down, enhancing the illusion that the sky image seen in the distance is really water puddle acting as a mirror. Inferior images are not stable. Hot air rises, and cooler air descends, so the layers will mix, giving rise to turbulence so the image will be distorted.
Iridescent Clouds
   is/are   
Clouds Showing Vivid Unusual or Rainbow Colours
They are formed from small water droplets of near uniform size. When the sun is properly positioned, mostly behind thick clouds, these thin clouds almost coherently diffract sunlight, and like a rainbow, different wavelengths are diffracted different amounts. Thus the rainbow effect.
Jacob's Ladder
   is/are   
Sun Rays That Appear to Fan out from a Single Point
Crepuscular rays, aka Buddah's fingers, Hands of God
Mistpouffers
   is/are   
Unexplained Booms Theorized to Be Earthquake Noises
Aka Seneca Guns, Moodus Noises, Brontidi and Fog Guns
A Moonbow
   is/are   
An Arc of Coloured Light Caused by Refraction of Moonlight by Rain
Also known as a lunar rainbow, lunar bow or white rainbow. Moonbows are relatively faint, due to the smaller amount of light from the Moon. the moon does not produce its own light, light from the sun is reflected. They are always in the opposite part of the sky from the moon.
The Novaya Zemlya Effect
   is/are   
The Sun's Appearance Before It Actually Rises
Process of refraction and inversion layers in polar regions
Parhelic Circle
   is/are   
A White Band Circling the Sky
Always at the same height above the horizon as the sun. Most of the time only fragments are seen, usually extending from sundogs in the directions away from the sun. Millions of ice crystals with their vertical faces each mirroring the sun around the sky form the circle.
Polar Mesospheric Clouds
   is/are   
Glowing Clouds at the Edge of Space
Bluish colored, aka Night Shining Clouds
A Rainbow
   is/are   
An Arc of Coloured Light Caused by the Interaction of the Sun and Rain Droplets
Caused by refraction of the sun's rays by rain
Red Sprites
   is/are   
Light Flashes Observed Above Thunderstorms
Can be seen from ground level and also reported by astronauts. Red in color.
Secondary Rainbow
   is/are   
A Reversed-colour Bow Above a Primary Rainbow
The secondary rainbow is about 10° further out from the anti-solar point than the primary bow, is about twice as wide. The light of the secondary bow is about one-tenth the intensity of that of the primary bow, given the same viewing conditions.
St. Elmo's Fire
   is/are   
A Bright Pink-purple Glow
Effect of high voltage working on a gas (in natural cases, nitrogen and oxygen) and creating plasma. Same principle as neon signs
Sun Dog
   is/are   
Parhelion
Also Mock Sun. Refraction of sunlight by ice crystals in the atmosphere
Sun Pillars
   is/are   
A Vertical Shaft of Light Extending from the Sun
Typically seen during sunrise or sunset, sun pillars form when sunlight reflects off the surfaces of falling ice crystals associated with thin, high-level clouds (like cirrostratus clouds).
Superior Mirage
   is/are   
A Mirage Appears Above the True Object
Occurs when the air below the line of sight is colder than that above. Since in this case the light rays are bent down, the image appears above the true object, hence the name superior. They are in general less common than inferior mirages, but when they do occur they tend to be more stable, as cold air has no tendency to move up and warm air no tendency to move down.
Supernumerary Arcs
   is/are   
Bands, Usually Pink or Green on the Inside of a Primary Rainbow
They result from interference of light rays which emerge from water droplets in the same direction. The number of visible supernumerary arcs depends upon the size of the raindrops.
Taos Hum
   is/are   
Low Frequency Sound Heard by Some People
Generic name for unexplained sound, aka Bristol Hum
Twilight Wedge
   is/are   
The Visible Shadow of the Earth Cast Upon the Sky by the Setting Sun
It can be seen as a blue-gray line or wall which rises in the east after a clear sunset. It is often tinged with pink.
White Night
   is/are   
Continuous Daylight
Also Midnight Sun. Observed in the polar regions during solstices when the sun does not set for several days
Will O' the Wisps
   is/are   
Faint Lights Seen over Swampy Areas
Theorized to be the result of decaying organic material
The Zodiacal Light
   is/are   
A Faint Cone of Light Seen in the Night Sky
Appears to extend up from the vicinity of the sun along the ecliptic or zodiac. Sometimes called 'false dawn' it is best seen two to three hours before sunrise in the eastern sky. It's also visible in the west at certain times of year. It involves sunlight being reflected not off our atmosphere, but rather off a non-uniform distribution of space debris left over from the formation of the planets some 4.5 billion years ago.


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