A photographer has captured some stunning photographs of rainbow contrails. These strange ice clouds form when water vapor generated by airplane engines condenses and freezes around dust particles or water vapor already in the air. When sunlight hits the clouds just right, the light diffracts through them, creating a rainbow-like effect that is breathtaking.
These new photographs were captured by amateur photographer Soumyadeep Mukherjee from Kolkata, India. Rainbow contrails like those captured by Mukherjee happen when the light refracts through the ice clouds at different wavelengths. This creates quite a spectacle, which isn’t often captured in photographs like this.
As such, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time to see these ice clouds and the trails they create. You can see the images in the original report from Space.com, where Mukherjee’s work is put on full display. Mukherjee told Space.com that “nature never disappoints” when talking about the image.
“I couldn’t believe that I captured it,” Mukherjee continued in a statement to Space.com. He says the colors were faint and not completely visible to the naked eye at the time, and that if he hadn’t zoomed his camera in so far, he probably would have missed it completely. You can see what rainbow contrails look like in the image we’ve included at the top of this article.
While we can’t show Mukherjee’s images here, you can see them in Space.com’s original report. In the images there, the colors blend in beautifully with the clouds, while the image at the top of the article showcases them against a darker background. It’s the way that they blend with the other clouds around them that makes these light shows so difficult to see sometimes.
If you’re looking for even more beautiful light shows to check out, you can see the sky bleed after a SpaceX rocket ripped through the atmosphere in late July.