Incredible! Skywatcher Captures Colorful Rainbow Airglow Over Azores Island

Rainbow Airglow Above the Azores by Claro
Above the low clouds on Pico Mountain, skywatcher Miguel Claro captured this incredible ‘rainbow airglow’ in March 2016 from Pico Island, Azores. (Image credit: Miguel Claro/

An incredible "rainbow airglow" lights up the night over Pico Island in the Azores in this simply spectacular view from a veteran night sky photographer. 

Astrophotographer Miguel Claro took the image earlier this year in March from the mountain in Pico Island, part of the Azores group of islands near the coast of Portugal during a photo expedition with colleagues.

"I stopped at about 1,200 meters to appreciate the views and photograph the lights coming from the island of Faial in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in a rare occasion with only a few clouds and part of the 'winter' Milky Way visible as a background of a temporarily clear sky," he wrote in an email to

The rainbow-colored bands of light or airglow is present in the atmosphere all the time but difficult to see. It takes the disturbance of an approaching storm to make them more visible by causing rippling in the Earth's atmosphere.

The multiple colors are likely caused by sodium, oxygen and OH molecules in the air. And, our perspective from Earth makes it appear as if they are emerging from the mountain itself. The image also shows a spectacular Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy shining above the island.

To see more amazing astrophotography photos by our readers, check out our night sky photo archive here

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at

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Contributing Writer and Producer

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for She began writing and producing content for in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.