Rare upside down rainbow spotted in Mid-South - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rare upside down rainbow spotted in Mid-South

Circumzenithal arc in the sky Wednesday afternoon Circumzenithal arc in the sky Wednesday afternoon
Toone, TN (WMC) -

There was an unusual sight in the sky Wednesday afternoon in Toone, Tennessee. Many citizens looked up and saw an upside down rainbow.  

It was a beautiful sight but not one that many have seen before.

Typically a rainbow is seen after it rains; the rainbow is typically arched downward toward the ground.

That was not the case Wednesday, and that's because what people saw in the sky was not technically a rainbow: it was a circumzenithal arc.  

It's formed by ice crystal in the upper levels of the atmosphere. As light from the sun shines through the crystals it is refracted to form an arc around the sun.  

This phenomenon is most common with a full halo around the sun or moon when high level clouds are present. The arc seen Wednesday didn't form a complete arc around the sun because ice crystals were only present at that particular altitude and angle to the sun, but there was just enough to create an unusually beautiful sight to those who saw it.

It's just another reason to look up the the sky from time to time because you never know what surprises you may see.

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