Atlantis Glory

Space Shuttle Atlantis launched Friday 8th July 2011. As it ascended through clouds the sun and spacecraft directions were perfect to form a colorful ringed glory.   The glory tips the shadow of the shuttle in this view from the camera on the external fuel tank.

The glory was quickly spotted by atmospheric optics observer Rafael Schmall in Hungary who was watching the launch on live NASA TV with a group of friends. Thanks Rafael and also to Monika Landy-Gyebnár for the alert!

Glories are formed when small spherical water droplets in clouds and mist diffract and scatter sunlight backwards. They are often seen around the shadow of an airplane on clouds but this might well be the first, and sadly also the last, from an ascending shuttle.

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