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Physics in Phlight by Cameron Tiefenthaler

2nd Place - Natural Category

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School: Columbus School for Girls

Teacher: Dr. Kevin E. Sweeney

This occurrence was seen spontaneously outside my window on a trip to visit my grandmother in Iowa. The snapshot captures the shadow of our plane in what seems to be a rainbow halo. While this assumption is quite common, the optical phenomenon is actually called a “glory”. Glories differ from rainbows in that they occur when the light refracted inside water droplets has been altered by waves. They are only visible when clouds are beneath an object and the observer, sun, and clouds form a straight line. Glories can be seen whenever these criteria are met, such as in a hot air balloon or atop a skyscraper. Standing on the ground, we do not see these as our antisolar point, or “the abstract point…directly opposite of the Sun from an observer's perspective,” is beneath the horizon line. When we are elevated in the sky, we can witness a glory because our antisolar point has been elevated above the horizon line.

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