Rare upside-down rainbow pictured over York

The smile in the sky. Photographs: Luke John
1 May 2015 @ 9.06 pm
| Environment

The smile in the sky. Photographs: Luke John
The smile in the sky. Photographs: Luke John
It looks like the sky is heeding the adage, “turn that frown upside down” in this remarkable photograph.

Luke John captured the rare upside-down rainbow over York on Friday (May 1) and sent it in to YorkMix.

He spotted it near All Saints Church on Pavement and took these two pictures. “It’s apparently quite rare,” he said.

Another pic of this rarely seen sky halo
Another pic of this rarely seen sky halo
Wikipedia tells us the scientific name for this phenomenon is the Circumzenithal arc.

In fact, though, it is not technically a rainbow at all. Here’s some science for you:

The circumzenithal arc… also called the Bravais’ arc, is an optical phenomenon similar in appearance to a rainbow, but it belongs to the family of halos arising from refraction of sunlight through ice crystals, generally in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds, rather than from raindrops.

– Wikipedia

Apparently these arcs aren’t rare in themselves – but they are very rarely spotted as they form so high in the sky and are often obscured by clouds.

They are known as “the smile in the sky” – which we like to take as a very good omen for the Tour de Yorkshire Bank Holiday weekend.