Two rare optical phenomena formed in the sky at once: Photo

The photographer who photographed the plane high in the sky could not believe his eyes when he saw a bright rainbow contrail plume. Soumyadeep Mukherjee from India said that on July 19, he planned to capture the solar transit of the International Space Station (ISS) against the background of the Sun, but everything went awry.

The phenomenon of parhelion and rainbow contrail in one photo. Authorship: @soumyadeepmukherjeephotos

“At about five o’clock in the evening, I settled down on my terrace and was completely ready to capture the ISS transit through the night sky. However, clouds moved in, and my plans were thwarted. I was already upset when I suddenly saw a rare phenomenon – parhelion. While I was photographing, I saw the plane and its rainbow plume — it was an incredible sight. Capturing this rare optical phenomenon has always been on my wish list,” Mukherjee said.

Multicolored rainbow contrails of a passenger airliner high in the sky over India. Photo: @soumyadeepmukherjeephotos

As a result, the photographer simultaneously managed to capture the rainbow traces of exhaust coming out of the back of a commercial aircraft, as well as the phenomenon of parhelion. 

What are rainbow contrails?

Contrails in the sky, which are left behind by aircraft, mainly consist of condensed water vapor from aircraft engines. Rainbow contrails are created by individual water droplets that diffract sunlight.

Soumyadeep Mukherjee took a series of stunning rainbow trails over Kolkata, India. Image authorship: @soumyadeepmukherjeepheephotos

According to Atmosphere Optics, when droplets of the same size diffract their colored light in the same direction, the colors become visible to people on earth. 

Earlier we reported what you need to know about the most beautiful celestial spectacle of summer – silver clouds.

More of Mukherjee’s works can be found on his Instagram.

According to Space

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