Natural Phenomena

I love the Aurora Borealis. I saw a lovely photo online today. This thought led me to think about what other phenomena exist that we are scarcely aware of, so I did a little research.

Rainbows are a common phenomenon, but did you know there is such a thing as moonbows? These occur the same way rainbows do: moisture in the air refracts the light given off by, well, the moon. They can happen anywhere in the world; the conditions just have to be right.

One phenomenon I am sure we have all seen, but probably didn’t think too much about is a fire rainbow, or circumhorizon arc. These appear as a portion of spectral colors in a sunny sky. The term “fire rainbow” came from them typically appearing on a flame-like wispy cloud. I have seen these many times, and never realized I was witnessing a phenomenon.

Then there is lightning: most everybody loves a good lightning storm. There are all kinds of lightning at which to marvel: displays you can see from a plane when there is a storm below, the frightening stuff turfside during a tempest, or the rare dendritic (that’s the superb kind that travels through the clouds, fanning out like fern).

Hang on to your hats – there is also an astonishing lightning that happens during a volcanic eruption. Who knew a spewing volcano could produce something so breathtaking; I thought lava-heaving out of the earth was scary enough. Adding the lightning spectacle is just Nature’s way of showing off!

Bioluminescence. Rhetorically speaking, why should any living thing glow? Wouldn’t that be the greatest asset, to radiate? It turns ordinary bugs, worms, plankton, jellyfish, etc, into magical creatures!

A phenomenon does not have to be marvelous and terrible to be cool. The notion of sea driftwood producing colors when burned has always fascinated me. Minerals from the sea are impregnated into the wood, and when dried and burned, make a bonfire even more delightful.

There are many more phenomena in our world. Some are limited to certain climates, but all are worth investigating!

Caroline Poppendeck, Librarian
CCLD, Horseheads