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Bright spots in the Tennessee Valley sky Wednesday

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Days with high thin cirrus clouds are also days when jet contrails develop, and that can make for some cool optical phenomena in the sky!

Take this picture for instance: a sundog (parhelion) shows up directly left of the sun in a cirrus cloud formation called a “mare’s tail.”  The little bright spot that looks like a small rainbow wouldn’t be there if not for that wispy cloud.

Photo by Angela Williamson Costner

Photo by Angela Williamson Costner

Irina Bodie sent this one to us; it’s a small part of a 22º halo that is visible only because of the wind-swept contrail. The clear air around it doesn’t refract the sunlight like the ice crystals in the cloud, so that’s why you only see a tiny part of it.  The contrail started as jet exhaust; ice crystalized around the small particles in the exhaust plume and took the form of a cirrus cloud:

Irina Bodie/Huntsville

Irina Bodie/Huntsville

Michelle Miklik caught the whole picture of the 22º halo, sundogs, and a tangental arc (the brighter rainbow at the top of the circle) in Calhoun County:

And then there were some awesome sunsets like this!

Need some specifics about the weekend or next week? They’re always online at and in the “Daily Forecast” section on Live Alert 19!

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