Amazing photo captures rare 'rainbow contrails' plane effect

By Mark Molloy

A close-up of the stunning shot. Photo: Twitter / @KAGAYA_11949
A close-up of the stunning shot. Photo: Twitter / @KAGAYA_11949

A photographer has shared a stunning image of a kaleidoscope of colours and clouds captured in Japan.

Snapper KAGAYA shared the image of what appears to be a rare 'rainbow contrail' effect with his 210,000 followers on Twitter (@KAGAYA_11949).

The digital artist explained he was stunned to capture the unusual phenomenon on camera in Oshino-Mura, Yamanashi Prefecture, on May 8.

KAGAYA said he took the stunning image using an "extremely long telephoto lenses", adding he "was surprised by the brilliant phenomenon I saw for the first time".


Contrails are clouds of condensed water vapour and soot particles made by the exhaust of jet engines, but what makes this rainbow effect?

According to Contrail Science, who referenced a similar photo taken by pilot Jeff Well, it's actually an "aerodynamic contrail".

"It's formed by the reduction of pressure in the air as it moves over the wing. When the pressure of a gas falls, then its temperature also falls (the same principle as is used by your refrigerator).

"The reduced temperature cause small drops of water to condense, which then may freeze. The (frozen) drops get larger as more water condenses on them.

"The different sized drops (or ice crystals) have different optical properties, which affect different wavelengths of light, which accounts for the 'rainbow' effect."

Regular contrails sometimes disperse within minutes but can also be present in the sky for many hours. They can also act as a catalyst for the formation of further wispy cirrus cloud.

Clouds with a rainbow appearance can also appear as a result of a phenomenon known as cloud iridescence.

Amazing rainbow contrails Photo: Twitter / @KAGAYA_11949
Amazing rainbow contrails Photo: Twitter / @KAGAYA_11949

Weather.com senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen explains: "In clouds, iridescence is a by-product of sunlight being diffracted by water droplets or ice crystals, causing the various wavelengths of light, which we see as colours, to emerge at different angles," he said.

"As they reach the observer's eye, the observer perceives a pattern of various colours as those different wavelengths reach his or her eye from distinct directions, rather than being jumbled together and appearing whitish."

A so-called rainbow cloud formed over Costa Rica back in September, leaving residents and tourists in awe as the natural phenomenon glided through the sunny skies.

And last year a holidaymaker was amazed when she looked up at the Caribbean sky and spotted this stunning rainbow effect.

Beckie Bone Dunning was visiting the Jamaican port town of Ocho Rios when she captured the amazing sight on camera.

KAGYA is a digital artist who loves to capture explore themes such as the universe and nature.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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