A smile appears in skys – incredible upside down rainbow captured by schoolboy

July 2, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

This is the moment a stunning UPSIDE-DOWN rainbow appeared to smile down from the summer skies in a rarely captured phenomenon.

Experts say the incredible rainbows, which curve up rather than down to give the appearance of a smile, are created only during bizarre atmospheric conditions.

Normal rainbows are made when light penetrates raindrops and re-emerges out the other side in the same direction – creating an ‘unhappy face’ or downward arc.

But meteorologists say the inverted type are caused when sunlight bounces off ice crystals high in the atmosphere, sending the light rays back up.

The reverse rainbow – or circumzenithal arc – is often missed because it appears high overhead unlike a common rainbow which forms lower in the sky.

To create the conditions for a circumzenithal arc, the sun must be below 32 degrees in the sky and during summer it usually occurs in early morning or evening.

Delighted schoolboy Jacob Bryant, 14, took the shot from the back garden of his home in Peterborough, Cambs., at 6.30pm on Wednesday evening.

It stayed for around 20 minutes before fading as excited Jacob grabbed his camera for the perfect shot.

He said: ”I was in my garden when I looked up and it was there. I called my dad and I asked him if he had seen anything like it.

”He said no, so I grabbed my camera and took some pictures. It looked like a rainbow, but in a sunny sky with no clods around it.

”Because there was no rain clouds, I thought it was really unusual and it was upside down so it looked like a reflection of a rainbow.”

Mother Ruth, 45, a resource worker for Peterborough City Council, and dad Keith, 43, a stone mason, were both amazed when Jacob pointed out the arc.

Ruth said: ”I had just gone to the shops but when I got back Jacob showed me and I could still see it faintly.

”We didn’t realise until later just how unusual it was. I was so pleased that Jacob recognised it.”

Forecaster John Hunt from the Met Office said that the arcs were rare and were often missed when they did appear due to their position in the sky.

He said: ”We don’t get them very often so it’s quite unusual to see one.

”They get called upside down rainbows but they are an optical phenomenon that occurs in sunlight.”

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