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Proceedings Paper

Observing light in nature from an airplane window
Author(s): Joseph A. Shaw
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Paper Abstract

Photographs taken from commercial airplanes of optical phenomena in nature, such as rainbows, halos, glories, and sky colors, are shown to illustrate the variety of optical displays that can be observed by an informed and alert observer from an airplane window. Observing tips are provided to enhance the probability of seeing certain phenomenon, based on the time of day, location, and direction of travel of the airplane. Generally, a seat on the sun-ward side of the plane provides opportunities to observe halos, coronas, iridescence, glitter patterns, crepuscular rays, sunsets and twilight colors, while a seat opposite the sun provides opportunities to observe glories, rainbows, cloud bows, Earth's shadow, cloud shadows, contrail shadows, and other shadow phenomena. On flights at high latitudes, (north- or south-) pole-facing seats can sometimes provide opportunities for viewing somewhat more exotic phenomena, such as noctilucent clouds and auroras.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 August 2010
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 7782, The Nature of Light: Light in Nature III, 778208 (2 August 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.863901
Show Author Affiliations
Joseph A. Shaw, Montana State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7782:
The Nature of Light: Light in Nature III
Katherine Creath; Joseph A. Shaw, Editor(s)

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