Circumhorizon Arcs - Gallery

Circumhorizon Arcs - Gallery: A Spectacular Display of Atmospheric Optics

Atmospheric optics never fails to amaze us with its breathtaking displays of natural beauty. One such phenomenon that captivates our imagination is the circumhorizon arc. This optical marvel, also known as the fire rainbow, graces the sky with its vibrant colors and mesmerizing shape. In this article, we will delve into the captivating world of circumhorizon arcs, exploring their formation, characteristics, and showcasing a stunning gallery of images that will leave you in awe.

What are Circumhorizon Arcs?

A circumhorizon arc is an optical phenomenon that occurs when sunlight passes through ice crystals in cirrus clouds. These clouds are composed of tiny hexagonal ice crystals that act as prisms, bending and refracting sunlight to create a stunning display of colors. Unlike rainbows, which form from the refraction and reflection of sunlight through water droplets, circumhorizon arcs only occur when the sun is high in the sky, at an elevation of 58 degrees or greater.

Formation and Characteristics

To witness a circumhorizon arc, several conditions must align perfectly. First, cirrus clouds with horizontally aligned ice crystals must be present in the sky. Then, the sun's angle must be just right for the light to enter the ice crystals at the correct angle for refraction. When these conditions are met, the sunlight undergoes a process called dispersion, where it splits into its component colors due to the varying angles of refraction.

The resulting circumhorizon arc appears as a vibrant band of colors stretching horizontally across the sky. It is often mistaken for a rainbow due to its vivid hues, but unlike rainbows, circumhorizon arcs do not form a complete circle. Instead, they appear as partial arcs parallel to the horizon, hence their name. The colors are typically arranged in a similar order to a rainbow, with red on the top and violet on the bottom.

Gallery of Captivating Images

Now, let us embark on a visual journey through a gallery of stunning circumhorizon arc images. Each photograph showcases the ethereal beauty and enchanting colors that make this atmospheric phenomenon so captivating. From vibrant reds and oranges to brilliant blues and purples, these images capture the awe-inspiring nature of circumhorizon arcs in all their glory.

  1. Image 1: A vivid circumhorizon arc stretches across a cloudless sky, its colors contrasting against the deep blue backdrop.
  2. Image 2: The sun's rays pass through a veil of cirrus clouds, creating a mesmerizing display of colors that seems to dance across the horizon.
  3. Image 3: A partial circumhorizon arc hovers above a picturesque landscape, adding a touch of magic to the scene.
  4. Image 4: The vibrant colors of a circumhorizon arc reflect in a calm lake, creating a mirror-like effect that enhances its beauty.

Captivating Nature's Spectacle

The beauty of circumhorizon arcs lies not only in their vibrant colors but also in their ephemeral nature. These optical phenomena are relatively rare and can only be observed under specific atmospheric conditions. As the sun moves across the sky, the angle of the light changes, causing the circumhorizon arc to shift or disappear altogether. This fleeting nature adds to their allure, making each sighting a truly special experience.

A Reminder of Nature's Wonders

Circumhorizon arcs serve as a captivating reminder of the wonders that exist within our atmosphere. They showcase the intricate interplay between sunlight and ice crystals, resulting in a breathtaking display of colors that ignites our sense of wonder and curiosity. By appreciating these natural phenomena, we gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the intricate workings of our planet.


In conclusion, circumhorizon arcs are a spectacular display of atmospheric optics that never fail to mesmerize us. These vibrant bands of colors stretching across the sky are a testament to the beauty and complexity of our natural world. Through their formation, characteristics, and captivating gallery of images, we have explored the awe-inspiring nature of circumhorizon arcs. So, the next time you find yourself gazing at the sky on a sunny day, keep an eye out for this remarkable phenomenon and let yourself be enchanted by its breathtaking splendor.

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Reference Atmospheric Optics

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  • "Circumhorizon Arcs - Gallery". Atmospheric Optics. Accessed on November 30, 2023.

  • "Circumhorizon Arcs - Gallery". Atmospheric Optics, Accessed 30 November, 2023

  • Circumhorizon Arcs - Gallery. Atmospheric Optics. Retrieved from