A series of stunning rainbow contrails were captured by amateur photographer Soumyadeep Mukherjee, from Kolkata, India.
Contrails are a type of ice cloud produced when water vapor generated from the airplane's engines condenses and freezes around dust particles or with the water vapor already present in the air, according to NASA.
Rainbow contrails are produced when the frozen water droplets diffract sunlight in the same direction. According to Contrail Science, they are known as aerodynamic contrails and are formed when air pressure and temperature over the wings drop, causing the water vapor to freeze into different-sized droplets. When backlit by the sun, these frozen water droplets refract the light at different wavelengths, appearing as a rainbow to the observer.
It's all about being in the right place at the right time.
Mukherjee had originally set out to photograph the International Space Station transiting the sun, but clouds soon put a stop to that. He then turned his sights to an emerging sundog — a concentrated patch of sunlight occasionally seen to the right, left, or both sides of the sun — with a low-magnification zoom when he saw an airplane in the field of view.
"Nature never disappoints," Mukherjee told Space.com in an email.
Equipment: Nikon D5600, Sigma 150-600c, Leofoto tripod
Location: Kolkata, India
Exif: f/9, 1/1600s, ISO 250, 600mm
"I quickly zoomed my lens at 600mm and was very surprised to see some colours on the contrail." Mukherjee said.
"I couldn't believe that I captured it", Mukherjee continued. "The colours were faint and not visible to the naked eye. Had I not zoomed in with my camera, I would have missed it completely."
[insert image of the 7 contrails]
Caption: A collage of 7 individual images captured over a period of 40 seconds showing some changes in the iridescent colors and also in the contrail shape.
Thrilled with his efforts from July 19, Mukherjee set his sights on the sky once again on July 24, and photographed more rainbow contrails in exquisite detail.
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