Scientific Sunday

LUNAR RAINBOW CONTRAIL: Pilot and night-sky photographer Brian Whittaker has a knack for catching unusual sights from the cockpit as he flies back and forth from the USA to Europe. On July 3rd, he added “lunar rainbow contrail” to the list. “Although it was a beautiful evening seeing noctilucent clouds all night long from 38,000 feet, the coolest thing I saw was this iridescent contrail streaming from the wingtip of an Air France A380,” says Whittaker.

“We were flying east of Newfoundland, Canada, when the rising Moon lit up the contrail, creating a rainbow-colored streamer with stars sparkling above,” he says. “What a wonderful job.”

Although the contrail was rainbow-colored, it was not technically a rainbow, which requires raindrops. The contrail was filled with ice. Vortices of air that swirl behind flying wingtips create a low-pressure zone where water from humid air can condense. Sub-freezing temperatures produce crystals of ice which, in this case, split the light of the rising moon into iridescent colors.


About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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14 Responses to Scientific Sunday

  1. David B. Benson says:

    A distinction that makes no difference. A rainbow.


  2. David B. Benson says:

    Mrs. Flicker has three favorite perches.


  3. Den says:

    Bambi brought here two kids by today, each about a foot tall, cute as the dickens


  4. David B. Benson says:

    The Donald, First Addict.

    — Maureen Dowd


    • jim hitchcock says:

      “Twitter addicts take on this kind of nervous, paranoid, cranky quality, sort of itching for a fight,” Lanier said in an interview. “Trump used to be in on his own joke, and he no longer is. He’s just striking out every morning, fishing for somebody to harass or seeing who’s harassing him.



    • °¿º Carol says:

      I read her column about that, yesterday? Or was it today. Meh, who cares.

      Yeah, he’s an addict just like his dead brother was except it’s a different hook.


  5. °¿º Carol says:

    Had to water everything. Again. No sign of rain for the rest of the week. Grass isn’t growing much so I won’t be mowing very soon.

    Time to go out and commune with nature. Good thing, I’m do need a cold beer.


  6. David B. Benson says:

    Up to the TVD bridge and back to the Old Post Office in 70 minutes. Six species of birds, including tiny seed eaters unwilling to share the trail. Also a new species of ant as well as a butterfly. Clear and warm.


  7. Den says:

    No kidding?


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