Fogbows are closely connected to rainbows.

They are created by almost the same process – but with tiny water droplets within the fog rather than larger raindrops.

Check the full-sized panoramic view here. On July 28, April Singer reported: “This morning we had a little fog here in the high desert of New Mexico, USA. We had rain the last few afternoons and the ground is pretty saturated, and now this morning the sun was out. Perfect recipe for fog – and apparently for a fogbow! First time I’ve captured one. This is a pano with my iPhone. I didn’t realize the bow was there until I saw the picture. Since it’s been cloudy all through the comet viewing period, and I didn’t get any pictures, I’m happy to have something a little interesting to share now.”

Fogbows – also referred to as white rainbows, cloudbows, or ghost rainbows – are created almost like rainbows, from the same combination of sunshine and moisture. Rainbows appear when the air is full of raindrops. Moreover, we always see rainbows in the opposite direction of the sun.

Almost the same happens with fogbows – they are always opposite the sun.

However, fogbows are formed by tiny droplets within the fog or cloud rather than by bigger raindrops.

You can see fogbows in a thin fog while the sun is shining. You could see one as the sun emerges above the clouds. Over the ocean is a good choice as well.

Since the water droplets in the fog are so tiny, fogbows have either soft colors or are colorless.

Peter Lowenstein captured the fogbow in Mutare, Zimbabwe, on 29 April 2020. He stated: “Half-an-hour after the Sun rose behind my house on Wednesday, a beautiful fogbow developed in the middle of a misty morning view from my front veranda. All the conditions were right – bright sunshine from the rear with the Sun less than twenty degrees above the horizon and clearing clouds of mist at the antisolar point. The scene was framed by a beautiful flowering Poinsettia to the left, a lush banana grove to the right, and clear blue sky beginning to appear on top!”

Les Cowley (who runs the amazing website Atmospheric Optics) tells:

Look away from the sun and at an angle of 35-40 degrees from your shadow which marks the direction of the antisolar point. Some fogbows have very low contrast so look for small brightenings in the misty background. Once caught, they are unmistakable.

The sun must be less than 30-40 degrees high unless you are on a hill or high up on a ship where the mist and fogbow can be viewed from above.

Fogbows are huge, almost as large as a rainbow and much, much broader.

Jim Grant captured a fogbow over Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. He said: “The skies were sunny and clear, and then the fog rolled in, and with it this beautiful fogbow.”

To conclude: Fogbows are formed in almost the same way as rainbows. But, with tiny water droplets within the fog instead of larger raindrops. Since the water droplets in the fog are so thin, the fogbows have soft colors or are colorless.


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