Best time to travel to Colorado

Fire Rainbows

A curious optical phenomenon occurs quite rarely and only in special locations. If you are in the right time and in the right place, just look up to the sky

Fire Rainbows in Colorado 2020 - Best Time
Photo by

Matt Hecht

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Fire Rainbow or circumhorizontal arc, is a rare optical phenomenon. It is a kind of ice halos formed by the refraction of sun. Actually, it has nothing to do with fire or rainbows, but the way it looks in the sky corresponds to the name exactly.

Fire Rainbow... or Circumhorizontal Arc, Goldendale, Washington, USA 2020
Fire Rainbow... or Circumhorizontal Arc, Goldendale, Washington, USA
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Rainbow coloured flame can appears mainly during summer when the sun is at the 58 degrees and higher. There should be a high elevation cirrus cloud with plate-shaped ice crystals. Then, the sunlight has to go through the ice crystals at a particular angle and, as a result, a beautifully coloured prism appears in the sky.

Fire Rainbow, Gunbarrel Ranch, Colorado, USA 2020
Fire Rainbow, Gunbarrel Ranch, Colorado, USA
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The location also matters. Fire rainbows can't be seen in places north of 55°N or south of 55°S. The best location to watch this phenomenon is mid-latitudes and close to the equator. In the US circumhorizontal arcs are quite common can appear several times a year from late March till late September.

A circumhorizontal arc photographed in Hocking Hills, Ohio in June 2020
A circumhorizontal arc photographed in Hocking Hills, Ohio in June
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