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Vancouver Island's mysterious fogbows revealed

Thursday, March 5th 2020, 5:14 pm - With the sun at your back, watch a superficial layer of mist do its magic as it interacts with the sunlight.

Have you encountered such a sight before?

We've all seen a rainbow after a passing shower, but a fogbow requires an even more stringent set of criteria before they miraculously appear.

Atmospheric soundings this week across the Pacific Northwest revealed a sliver of moisture at the lowest elevations. An extremely shallow marine layer is easily pierced by sunlight.

Several sightings across southern Vancouver Island made for stunning images during the early morning hours of Thursday. That's clue number one. Morning.FOGBOW

The fogbow requires a sun angle of less than 40 degrees above the horizon. There are some ways around this with some rugged topography, but it remains important.

With the sun at your back, watch a superficial layer of mist do its magic as it interacts with the sunlight.

FOGBOW2

The fogbow remains a close cousin of the rainbow, which puts the rays into much more well defined optic paths, hench the distinct colours of the rainbow. The smaller droplet size of mist makes for an extremely effective way to diffract light, the primary reason the fogbow appears so washed out.

explainer

Fogbows aren't restricted to the shorelines of Vancouver Island. They can be viewed in the middle of the ocean during shallow fog conditions, in the Arctic closely nestled along with clumps of sea ice, and even in the middle of the night, utilizing the faint light from a full moon.

Happy fogbow hunting, Canada.

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