Atmospheric phenomena
The sky is an interesting place even when you can't peek into the Universe beyond, and there is an abundance of strange and not-so-strange effects as light moves through our atmosphere.  Rainbows, sun rays, sunset colours, Sun and Moon haloes, coronae etc etc.  Photographing them can be a challenge, especially with the Sun, and a good result can be very rewarding.  I've included a sample of some of my better or more interesting shots below, with links to an explanation of the particular phenomenon...

Here's a one-stop-shop for everything you would ever want to know about all the common, rare, weird and wonderful optical effects in our atmosphere.  There's even an Optics Picture of the Day (OPOD) where you can submit images for selection:

Atmospheric Optics








Strong 22-degree halo around the sun, 5 December 2009. Freguent halos

Upper tangent arc, with small parhelia (Sun Dogs) showing each side.  5 May 2009. Frequent halos

Another strong upper tangent arc, with no 22-deg halo or sun dogs.  31 May 2009

Sun dogs, 22-degree halo and upper tangent arc, 5 May 2009. Frequent halos

22-degree halo, with Sun setting behind hills.  Taken at Smoko, Victoria, Australia, 31 May 2009

22-degree halo with faint circumzenithal arc near top of frame, 18 June 2009. Circumzenithal arc

Crepuscular rays, 7 February 2009. Crepuscular rays

Sky-wide sun rays, 7 February 2009. Sky-wide rays

Crepuscular rays, 4 April 2009

Rainbow with secondary bow above, Niue Island, 22 August 2007. Secondary

Rainbow with supernumeraries on underside, 24 March 2007. Supernumeraries

Sea spray bow, Niue Island, 19 August 2007

Cloud iridescence, 17 April 2009

Lunar Corona, 5 May 2009

Desert sunset, White Cliffs, NSW, 16 November 2008

Sun Dog & 22 degree halo, 13 April 2009

Crepuscular rays in sunset, 24 October 2007

Cloud iridescence, 17 April 2009

 Dramatic sunset, 30 November 2007

 Another brilliant sunset, 4 January 2009

 Extreme 22-degree lunar halo!  Normally associated with bright gibbous phases and full Moons, this faint halo was around the thin crescent phase, 4.78 days old (insert at top right).  Quite easily visible to the eye, it took a long exposure and considerable post-processing to bring it out.  26 July 2009

"Bushfire Sun".  Eerily coloured sun shines through bushfire smoke as it sets, 21 April 2009.  See Rayleigh scattering

"Red Bow" - rainbow reddened in sunset colours, 11 October 2009

"Bushfire Moons" - Moon shining through bushfire smoke, 8 February 2009. See Rayleigh scattering
Reddened rainbow in sunset, truncated by Earth shadow.  Taken at Mt Hotham, Victoria, Australia, 21 April 2010
Green flash, 6 July 2011, imaged from the cruise liner "Pacific Pearl" near the Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific.
Green flash, 7 July 2011
Green flash, 10 July 2011
Pacific Ocean sunset, 16 July 2011

All photographs taken with Canon 400D

Click on image to enlarge...

Sunset from my backyard, 8 March 2008


Contrail shadow and "Sun Dog" (parhelia), 7 March 2009



Very bright sun dog with parhelic circle extending out to right, 5 May 2009

 Green flash at sunset, 16 July 2011
 Ice halos, 6 May 2011.  Overprocessed to show faint trace of a rare Parry arc.

Circumzenithal arc (top), upper tangent arc on 22-degree halo (centre-bottom) and cloud iridescence (bottom), 1 June 2010


Circumzenithal arc, 23 April 2010

22-degree halo around the Sun, 15 January 2009


22-degree halo around the Moon, 10 April 2009


 22-degree lunar halo, 9 January 2009


Cloud iridescence, 11 October 2009


Double lunar corona, very 'tight' on the Moon.  The inner ring conforms strongly to the phase of the Moon.  Photographed at Buchan, Victoria, Australia, 14 May 2009


Strongly-coloured double lunar corona in broken cloud.  Photographed at Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia, 11 March 2009


Lunar crepuscular rays ("moonbeams"), 10 January 2009


More lunar crepuscular rays, 7 February 2009


Strong rainbow and secondary, 11 October 2009


Corona/aureole around Venus, 24 September 2010.


Contrail shadow thrown by Moon onto high cloud, 24 September 2010



All photos taken at Bright, Victoria, Australia (36.7° S, 147.0° E) unless otherwise stated.