A rainbow appeared over New Haven, Missouri this week, but it was missing something — color.
Tammi Elbert wasn’t sure what she was seeing, so she did what any photographer would do. She took a picture of it.
“I was driving into patches of fog and I kept seeing what I thought was a rainbow,” she told ABC News on Tuesday.
“When I first saw it, I thought it was maybe an optical illusion. I was pretty intrigued and I knew I've seen it before I didn't realize how rare it was.”
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“Nature sure has a way of making us go wow,” one friend wrote on her Facebook page.
Elbert tagged The Weather Channel, which then explained on its website that “this ghostly rainbow differs from its multicolored cousin mainly in the size of water drops acting on incoming sunlight.”
With a rainbow, “the raindrops are large enough to act like a prism, first reflecting a small fraction of sunlight within the drop, then refracting or bending white light's component colors on distinct paths back to your eye,” the weather channel explained.
The droplets in fog, however, are much smaller — too small to reflect and refract light like raindrops.
Instead, the light diffracted “from these tiny droplets, clashing together and interfering in a haze of white or gray, rather than taking the neat, distinct, colorful paths from refraction in raindrops,” said the weather experts.
Whatever their meteorological DNA, fogbows sure make pretty photos.
“It’s kind of eerie, they’re really beautiful though,” Elbert told ABC. “You just see this big, white rainbow and it’s very usual.”