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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Bob Valen 

Shimmering clouds and good wine


Last week I got an email with a photo showing a cloud that had erupted into a rainbow of color. There is a name for what happened: it’s called cloud iridescence or irisation. Some call it cloud rainbows.

What happens is individual ice crystals or water droplets in the cloud reflect, refract and disperse incoming sunlight. It’s like what happens when a rainbow develops. A rainbow is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets, causing a spectrum of light to appear in the sky. Also, the occurrence of cloud iridescence is a bit rare. If you saw this iridesce...

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