Infralateral Arc

Infralateral Arc: A Rare Atmospheric Phenomenon

Atmospheric optics never fails to astonish us with its breathtaking displays. One such captivating spectacle is the infralateral arc. While relatively rare, this optical phenomenon adds a touch of wonder to the sky, enchanting those fortunate enough to witness it.

The infralateral arc, as its name suggests, appears below the sun when it is positioned high in the sky. It curves gracefully underneath the sun and follows a path similar to the circumhorizon arc, which is created by oriented plates. However, in the case of the infralateral arc, it is a better match to the image and is believed to be produced by the same singly oriented columns responsible for the intense circumscribed halo.

Captured by Don Gent in Merritt, B.C., Canada on June 11, 1999, this photograph beautifully showcases the vibrant halos and the mesmerizing infralateral arc. The sun's position at an elevation of 63 degrees allowed for the optimal display of this atmospheric phenomenon.

To fully appreciate the wonder of the infralateral arc, it is important to understand the science behind it. This optical phenomenon occurs due to the interaction of sunlight with ice crystals in the atmosphere. These ice crystals, shaped like columns, are aligned in a singular orientation, creating a unique optical effect.

When sunlight passes through these oriented columns, it undergoes refraction and dispersion. This refraction causes the light to change direction as it enters and exits the ice crystals. As a result, different colors of light are separated and scattered, giving rise to the vibrant halos and arcs that adorn our skies.

The infralateral arc is a testament to the complexity and beauty of atmospheric optics. Its rarity adds to its allure, making it a sought-after sight for skywatchers and photographers alike. Although not as well-known as some other atmospheric phenomena, such as rainbows or sun halos, the infralateral arc holds its own unique charm.

The appearance of the infralateral arc is influenced by various factors, including the position of the sun, the altitude of the observer, and the size and shape of the ice crystals. These intricate variables contribute to the infrequent occurrence of this phenomenon, making it a special treat for those who happen to witness it.

As with many atmospheric optics phenomena, capturing the infralateral arc on camera can be challenging. Its fleeting nature and subtle appearance require patience and a keen eye. However, when successfully captured, photographs of the infralateral arc are truly captivating, showcasing the delicate and ethereal beauty of nature's light show.

In conclusion, the infralateral arc is a rare and enchanting atmospheric phenomenon that adds a touch of magic to our skies. Created by oriented columns of ice crystals, this optical display curves gracefully beneath the sun, creating a captivating visual spectacle. While infrequently observed, those lucky enough to witness and capture the infralateral arc are treated to a mesmerizing sight that reminds us of the intricate wonders of our natural world.

Don Gent captured these colourful halos at Merritt, B.C. Canada on June 11, '99 when the sun was 63� high.

Curving over the hills is very possibly a rare infralateral arc.

When the sun is high the infralateral arc curves right underneath it and follows a course very similar to the circumhorizon arc produced by oriented plates. However, here the infralateral arc is a better fit to the image and would be produced by the same singly oriented columns which produced the intense circumscribed halo of the display.

Photograph �Don Gent - reproduced with permission.

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Reference Atmospheric Optics

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  • "Infralateral Arc". Atmospheric Optics. Accessed on April 13, 2024.

  • "Infralateral Arc". Atmospheric Optics, Accessed 13 April, 2024

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