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Shadow in the Clouds by Léa Koob

2nd Place - Natural Category

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School: Cherry Creek High School

Teacher: Whitney Mernitz

The world is a beautiful place full of natural phenomena that can be explained by simple physics. I took this picture on my flight to France about a year ago. The shadow in the clouds seen in this image comes from light being blocked by the plane, since light cannot bend to get around objects. The rainbow surrounding the shadow of the plane is caused by total internal reflection in the water droplets and dispersion that separates white light into its component colors. These colors and their order represent visible light on the electromagnetic spectrum. Since red has the longest wavelength, it is at the top of the rainbow, and since violet has the shortest wavelength, it is at the bottom of the rainbow. The reason why we can see this rainbow is that the sun is behind the plane, and there are water droplets in front of the plane. As seen in this photograph, rainbows are actually perfect circles. When we typically see rainbows they are in the shape of an arc because the ground keeps the circle from being completed. We truly do live in a wonderful world.

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