Dietrich ZawischaContact Deutsche Version

Colours in the Atmosphere

Sun, Sky, and Clouds
Irdescent Clouds, Aureoles
Blue Aureole
Circumzenithal Arc
Parhelia and Halos
Light Pillars

Sun, Sky, and Clouds

These two pictures of the setting sun have been taken within few seconds. Due to overexposition, the red sun appears white in the left picture. Only if the exposition time is so short that almost all the rest of the sky is black in the picture, the camera renders the sun's colour similar to the visual impression (right hand side).

If there is haze or sufficiently dense dust in the air, the light of the setting sun may be damped so strongly that a photograph can reproduce its colour satisfactorily. Then, the sun appears orange or, if the air is more turbid, even pink. (The bluish grey of the scattered light / colour of the sky surrounding the sun added to the orange-coloured light coming straight from the sun yields pink.)
Sunset behind distant trees on a hazy day.

Clouds and haze Photos (2) © H. Zawischa
After sunset 

Colourful sunset over the Baltic Sea Photo © H. Zawischa

Before sunrise (Oderberg, 28. July. 2006, 4:50 CEST):

Back to the section on "scattering".

Lunar eclipse, February 21, 2008

Left: The moon before entering the earth's shadow. Middle: 3:59 o'clock CET, before being completely in the deepest shadow, the moon is visible through a thin cloud. Right: 4:05 CET, in the deepest shadow, briefly before being completely hidden by the clouds getting more dense.
Photographs taken in Wunstorf (near Hannover, Germany).

Back to the text "scattering - lunar eclipse".

Iridescent Clouds

Left: Clouds, July 30, 2005 near Hannover, 18:34 CEST.
Right: Enlarged detail.
At small angular distanse from the sun the thin clouds dazzle in nacreous colours.

Clouds, August 2, 2005, 18:35 CEST near Hannover.
Wunstorf, October 27, 2005.
Left: 12:44 CEST (larger image), right: 12:45 CEST (larger image)
Wunstorf, October 29, 2005, 10:20 CEST

Back to the text "Diffraction / Iridescent Clouds"

Quite often one can see the sun through thinner clouds sufficiently faint so that photographs can be taken. The immediate vicinity of the sun is bluish, even if there is no otherwise well developed aureole.
August 8, 2005, 14:06 and 16.02 CEST.

Left: 27. August 27, 2005, 12:15, Right: September 15, 2005, 13:31 CEST

Back to the text on diffraction / blue aureole.


Rainbow, summer 1978, Carinthia. On a larger image the supernumerary bows can be seen.
Wunstorf, May 31th 2005, 19:28 CEST Wunstorf, April 2nd 2006, 16:54 CEST
Hannover, May 23rd 2006, 20:38 CEST
Hannover, Maschsee-fountain. August 17th 2006, 18:51 CEST
enlarge a enlarge b       Hannover, August 29th 2006, 19:34 CEST (solar altitude 5.6º). Panorama mounting: AutoStitch.  

Wunstorf, October 7th 2006, 17:45 CEST Wunstorf, February 28th 2007, 17:42 CET  

enlarge a enlarge b enlarge c enlarge d      Hannover, July 4th 2007, 20:55 CEST

Back to the section "Rainbow"

Circumzenithal Arcs

CZA in Hannover, June 20th 2005.
19:53 CEST (large image) 19:54 CEST (large image)
Circumzenithal arc seen in Hannover, June 20th 2005. Inconspicuous in the beginning, it changed rapidly with the motion of the clouds. After about half an hour the clouds became more dense and the arc gradually disappeared. Fotos © D. Zawischa.
On November 2nd 2005 there was (in Wunstorf, at a solar altidute of 20.5º) a CZA visible for three minutes only:
10:43:21 CET (large image) 10:43:44 CET (large image)

Wunstorf, October 9th 2006: a CZA appears, fades after some time and reappears. The images capture the brightest moments:
9:39 CEST (large image) 10:45 (large image)

Wunstorf, October 11th 2006, 11:27 CESTWunstorf, May 20th 2007, 19.02 CEST
Wunstorf, May 31st 2007, 18:27 CEST

Back to section "Circumzenithal Arcs"


Left: Sundog, Hannover, June 22nd 2005, 20:42 CEST.
Right: Detail.
Left: Wunstorf (near Hannover), July 10th 2005, 19:27 CEST.
Right: Detail.
Hannover, July 20th 2005. Left: 20:19 CEST (large image)     
Right: 20:20 CEST (large image).
Left: Wunstorf, July 28th 2005, 19:49 CEST
Right: Wunstorf, August 28th 2005, 13:30 CEST, solar altitude 47.3º. Due to slight overexposition, the colours are fainter than they actually were.

Left: Wunstorf, September 14th 2005, 10:14 CEST
Right: Wunstorf, October 27th 2005, 16:14 CEST
Wunstorf, August 19th 2006, 19:34 CEST
Back to the section "Parhelia"

22º-Halo and Tangent Arc

Left: Upper tangent arc (and 22º-Halo), Wunstorf, August 28th, 2005, ca. 13:40 CEST (solar altitude 47.2º)
Right: 22º-Halo. Wunstorf, August 28th 2005, 16:30 o'clock.
Upper tangent arc and 22º-Halo, Wunstorf, September 13th 2005.
Left: 13:36 CEST      Right: 15:20.
Left: Upper tangent arc and part of 22º-Halo, Wunstorf, November 2nd 2005, 8:33 CET, solar altitude 8.8º. Right: Upper tangent arc, 22º-Halo and weak left sundog, Wunstorf, May 30th 2006, 19:52 CEST (solar altitude 12.5º)

22-Halo, Upper Tangent Arc and 46-Halo

        Wunstorf, January 23rd 2007,
12:37 CET

Light Pillar

Wunstorf, September 19, 2008, 19:39 CEST. The Sun is already 1.9º below the horizon and shines at the lower side of the clouds. Ice crystals in the shape of flat hexagonal prisms float in the clouds and tend to orient their basis plane horizontally. They reflect the sunlight forming a light pillar.
The geometry is much the same as in the formation of a column of light on a rough water surface (right picture), turned upside down.
Left: Wunstorf, April 27th 2006, 20:41 CEST. Right: Hannover, July 12th 2006, 22:01 CEST.
The light of the setting sun (left) or the sun already 3º below the horizon (r.h.s.) is mirrored in horizontally aligned platelike ice crystals forming a light pillar.

Back to the text "Parhelia"