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Rare upside-down rainbow in Newhall

Posted: November 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.

An upside-down rainbow or "circumzenithal arc" appears in Newhall on Wednesday.

When Brooke McClure-Provenzano’s 3-year-old called, “Look, Mommy, a rainbow,” her mom just had to grab her cellphone for a picture. Because the rainbow in the sky over Newhall on Wednesday afternoon was no ordinary rainbow.

It was upside down.

“We were just going outside in the backyard, and my 3-year-old is the one who pointed it out,” McClure-Provenzano said Thursday.

“The upside-down rainbow was also shimmering — there was a glistening to it. The cloud formation was really weird, too.”

McClure-Provenzano says the rainbow lingered only a short time but it kept its upside down shape throughout.

The curiosity has a simple explanation, according to scientists.

Known by the technical term “circumzenithal arcs,” upside-down rainbows are caused by ice crystals in the air, according to the Institute of Physics.

Under rare conditions, the sun’s rays can reflect off those ice crystals and create a band of colors that are the inverse of a normal rainbow.



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