Sun Rays & Shadows

Crepuscular rays and shadows radiate outwards from a high cloud. Marty Malahy imaged these on the I-35 north of Oklahoma City.

Image ©Marty Malahy, shown with permission.

The temperature was 103F and the air probably humid. Rays and shadows are best seen in these conditions for they need particles - moisture droplets, aerosol or dust - to scatter light and render them visible.

Rays and shadows, crepuscular rays, are one of the few atmospheric optics effects that are 'real' in the sense that they exits in corporeal space, can be flown around or through, even touched.

Next time they are seen radiating from a cloud, play a mind trick. Imagine long parallel light and dark rods reaching down from the cloud to touch the ground surrounding you. They would show the same deceptive perspective effects as the rays and shadows.

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