Fog Bow


Running at daybreak on August 11, I had the occasion to observe a strange meteorological phenomenon.

I was running on a small side road, making 3 km circuits. The morning mist floated above the hay fields, a large open space. Then the sun rose, and I had the wonderful surprise! 

This  mist rainbow (fog bow according to Wikipedia) requested particular conditions, illustrated here.

The fog rose in front of me, and the sun at my back. My explanation picture is less detailed than this diagram of a rainbow drawn by René Descartes, from his 1637 Discours de la Méthode, laying the foundation of modern scientific thought.

What is surprising is the apparent size of the fog bow, very small. And its lack of colors made it a rather thick and white rainbow.

I had to run one kilometer to fetch a camera, but when I returned to the scene, there was nothing left to immortalize! The mist had lifted and the sun had crept higher in the sky, no longer offering a favorable angle of diffusion/refraction.

This remarkable appearance comes from a size question. The size of the droplets in the  fog (under 0.05 millimeters) are way smaller than rain drops (1-2 mm), so the fog bow shows very weak colors, and I perceived only the white. Here’s one from the NASA pages photographed in California, with a short explanation:

“The drops active above are so small that the quantum mechanical wavelength of light becomes important and smears out colors that would be created by larger rainbow water drops acting like small prisms reflecting sunlight.”

A gift from Mother Nature that only a runner and horses were able to observe!

For artists, the gray tones of this comic necessited four distinct layers in Manga Studio. I adjusted the layers of gray tones to “darken more” (darken) while the pale haze layer lighten the underlying greys.

Did you witness a similar phenomenon?

One response to “Fog Bow

  1. Pingback: Music and readings for the afflicted | Echoes of a Sunday artist

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