Our planet Earth is a source of endless mystery and wonder. With all of modern science and technology at our disposal, we have come closer to understanding many strange, mysterious and beautiful weather phenomena that occurs in different parts of the world. Following are some examples of such phenomena.
1. Sun Dogs
These optical phenomenon are visible as a pair of bright spots appearing on both sides horizontally to the sun. They belong to the halo family of weather phenomena, and are caused by the interaction of sunlight against ice crystals present in cloud formations. There appearance is in the form of two coloured patches of light on either side of the sun. They can be observed from every country, and more most easily noticeable when the sun gets close to the horizon. Interestingly, sun dogs are formed on several other planets in different shapes and sizes depending on atmospheric content and distance from the sun.
2. Frost Flowers:
These beautiful ice crystals are formed by the interplay of cold weather with plants present in the area. Their formation depends upon the freezing temperature of the land. The sap present in the stem of plants expands due to it’s liquid nature, which causes cracks to appear along the stem. Water is drawn through these cracks in a capillary action which immediately freezes upon coming into contact with the cold air. As more water is drawn, it causes the thin top layer to push away, forming petals. These petals are very delicate, and break easily upon touching. Many differently shaped frost flowers have been noted, such as needle ice, front pillars and frost columns.
3. Noctilucent Cloud:
These clouds, located between 50 degrees and 65 degrees of latitude of the Earth, are as strange as they are beautiful. Very little is known with certainty about their origins, and the reasons for their formation remain a mystery, although a popular theory among astronomers is that the clouds are composed of meteorite dust particles that have become encased in ice crystals. NLC’s are not very thick, measuring in the region of four to ten nano meters. There is a growing belief that their presence is an indication of global warming. But even with the little we know about them, these cloud formations remain a source of mystery and wonder as well as beauty for the world.
4. Sun Pillars:
This is a type of optical illusion that is also known as a light pillar, and takes the shape of a tall vertical band of light that appears to extend above the sun. It is created by the reflection of the sun’s light against many tiny ice crystals present in clouds or suspended in the atmosphere. A similar effect can be seen in smaller light sources, such as streetlamps or light bulbs. The crystals involved in the process are flat and in the shape of hexagons. They lie suspended in a horizontal direction, and their surfaces together act as a giant reflecting mirror, reflecting the light from the sun upward in a virtual image. Turbulence among the crystals causes some degrees of deviation in the reflection, leading to the elongated and pillar like appearance of the image. A night version of the phenomenon can also occur in the presence of the moon as a light source.
5. Ball Lightning
A popular feature of mythologies about wizards and conspiracy theories about aliens, ball lightnings are an unexplained electrical phenomena. They take the shape of spherical, luminous objects that can vary in dimensions from the size of a pea to the size of a car. For a long time, scientists believed ball lightnings were a myth instead of an actual weather phenomenon. It was only after the conditions necessary for their creation were successfully reproduced in laboratories that their existence was confirmed. However, due to the infrequency and unpredictability of their appearance in the natural world, no conclusive theories about their true nature exists.