On December 19th, 2003, we flew from Halifax to Toronto. As we were beginning our descent to toronto, before we went under the clouds, I noticed an interesting circle of colour on the clouds outside my window. These photographs were taken at about 8:45 EST, looking north out the plane's window, while the Sun was visible out the south side of the plane.
This phenomenon of a circular rainbow is known as a glory, and it is caused by light scattering from the water in the clouds. Viewed in person, I can say that the rainbow appeared more colourful than what you see in the above picture. Below is a version of the glory I enhanced using the gimp to exaggerate the colour and expose some detail of its structure.
|The glory enhanced|
As we approached the clouds, the shadow of the plane became visible and was basically in the center of the glory.
|The glory around the shadow of our plane|
The best picture was the last one I took before we went under the clouds, this shows clearly the shadow of the tail of the plane in the center of the glory, as we were seated right at the rear of the plane.
|The glory around a larger shadow of our plane|
The enhanced version of this closer shot shows the best detail of the structure of the glory.
|Enhanced version of the final glory image|
Here are some links relating to glories and circular rainbows I found on the web: