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Cloud Shadows & Rays
A dramatic sight captured by Kevin Radley near Parnell, IL. The sun is behind the towering cloud as it casts 3-5 shadows apparently upwards into the air.

Images ©Kevin Radley, shown with permission
A thank you to Mark Schnackenberg, KWWL Chief Meteorologist, for alerting OPOD.

The shadow on the lower layer appears high in the sky

How to paint clouds. Colours at right plucked from the cloud. Children almost always paint clouds as white or maybe with some grey - we are taught so. Whereas they contain a host of hues.

Blues from the sky, deep hues from the dark interior, light from other clouds, sunlight scattered through the 'sliver lining' and colours of the ground beneath all add to the cloud palette.

The perceived colour depends too on the eye and colours of nearby objects against which the cloud is seen.

The shadows are cast on multiple layers of thin cloud/haze that would otherwise be seen only as a slightly hazy sky. From the eye on the ground they appear higher than the cloud top - but that is an illusion.
This sketch shows only one cloud layer. The multiple shadows in the images were created by four or more.

The 'eye' is inside the shadow of the towering cumulus. The sun will appear to be behind it