Fogbow visibility

Fogbow Visibility: A Closer Look at the Elusive Atmospheric Phenomenon

Have you ever witnessed a fogbow, that ethereal cousin of the rainbow? While rainbows are a common sight after rainfall, fogbows are a bit more elusive. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of fogbow visibility, exploring where and when you are most likely to spot these captivating optical wonders.

The Basics of Fogbows

Fogbows, like rainbows, always appear opposite the sun. However, unlike rainbows, fogbows are broader and almost as large in size. These ghostly apparitions can be found in various locations, with hills, mountains, and cold sea mists being the most common spots. Nevertheless, as evidenced by stunning photographs, fogbows can manifest themselves anywhere, as long as there is thin fog and fairly bright sunshine.

The Optimal Conditions for Spotting Fogbows

To increase your chances of spotting a fogbow, keep an eye out for specific conditions. Look for moments when the sun breaks through mist or fog, creating a magical interplay of light and moisture. To locate a fogbow, divert your gaze away from the sun and focus at an angle of around 35-40° from your shadow. This direction marks the antisolar point, where the center of the fogbow will appear. Be aware that some fogbows may have low contrast, so pay attention to small brightenings in the misty background to identify them.

The Sun's Position and Fogbow Visibility

The sun's position plays a crucial role in the visibility of fogbows. For optimal viewing, the sun should be less than 30-40° high in the sky, unless you find yourself on a hill or high up on a ship. In these elevated positions, you may have the opportunity to observe the mist and fogbow from above, enhancing your experience of this enchanting phenomenon.

Fogbows, Glories, and Coronae: A Shared Light Scattering Process

When observing a fogbow, take a moment to check for a glory at the bow's center. Glories, fogbows, and coronae are all manifestations of the same light scattering process. These captivating phenomena occur when light interacts with tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere, creating mesmerizing optical displays that captivate both scientists and casual observers alike.

Exploring the World of Fogbows

Fogbows have a magical quality that makes them truly unforgettable. Their elusive nature and breathtaking beauty make them a sought-after sight for many nature enthusiasts and photographers. Here are some additional points to consider when exploring the world of fogbows:

  • Fogbows are most commonly observed on hills, mountains, and in cold sea mists.
  • Fogbows can be found anywhere with thin fog and bright sunshine.
  • Some fogbows may have low contrast, so keep an eye out for small brightenings in the misty background.
  • Fogbows are almost as large as rainbows and have a much broader appearance.
  • The sun's position should be taken into account when searching for fogbows, with the ideal angle being less than 30-40° from the horizon.
  • Glories, fogbows, and coronae are all related phenomena, resulting from the scattering of light by atmospheric particles.

In conclusion, witnessing a fogbow is a remarkable experience that reminds us of the intricate interplay between light and atmospheric conditions. By understanding where and when to look, you can increase your chances of encountering this elusive atmospheric marvel. So keep your eyes peeled during misty mornings or when fog blankets the landscape, and you may just be rewarded with the awe-inspiring sight of a captivating fogbow.

Morning fogbow, Ohio.

Fogbows are almost as large as rainbows but much broader.

Like rainbows they are always opposite the sun.

The shadow of photographer Michael Ellestad (atmospheric optics site) is at the antisolar point and the centre of the bow.

Image ©2004 Michael Ellestad.

On hills, mountains and in cold sea mists are where you will most often see a fogbow. But as the image shows, they can be found anywhere provided there is thin fog and fairly bright sunshine.

Search when the sun breaks through mist or fog. Look away from the sun and at an angle of 35-40° from your shadow which marks the direction of the antisolar point. Some fogbows have very low contrast so look for small brightenings in the misty background. Once caught, they are unmistakable.

The sun must be less than 30 - 40° high unless you are on a hill or high up on a ship where the mist and fogbow can be viewed from above.

Fogbows are huge, almost as large as a rainbow and much much broader.

Finally, check for a glory at the bow's centre. Glories, fogbows and coronae are all manifestations of the same light scattering process.

On hills, mountains and in cold sea mists are where you will most often see a fogbow. But as the image shows, they can be found anywhere provided there is thin fog and fairly bright sunshine.

Search when the sun breaks through mist or fog. Look away from the sun and at an angle of 35-40° from your shadow which marks the direction of the antisolar point. Some fogbows have very low contrast so look for small brightenings in the misty background. Once caught, they are unmistakable.

The sun must be less than 30 - 40° high unless you are on a hill or high up on a ship where the mist and fogbow can be viewed from above.

Fogbows are huge, almost as large as a rainbow and much much broader.

Finally, check for a glory at the bow's centre. Glories, fogbows and coronae are all manifestations of the same light scattering process.

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Reference Atmospheric Optics

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  • "Fogbow visibility". Atmospheric Optics. Accessed on June 24, 2024. https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/fogbow-visibility/.

  • "Fogbow visibility". Atmospheric Optics, https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/fogbow-visibility/. Accessed 24 June, 2024

  • Fogbow visibility. Atmospheric Optics. Retrieved from https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/fogbow-visibility/.