Witness A Magical 'Ghost Rainbow' Captured In Scotland

Video highlights from Wild Scotland

Photographer Melvin Nicholson recently struck gold with a gorgeous image of this lesser-known weather phenomenon.

Rainbows are no-brainers. Formed by the refraction of sunlight in a suspension of rain droplets in the air, they always feature the same colours in the same order due to the optical properties of light waves.

So what’s the deal with all-white rainbows, then? Turns out they are basically rainbow cousins.

In just the right conditions on a misty and sunny day you can sometimes see a phenomenon known as a ‘fogbow’. Fog contains much smaller droplets than rain; if sunrays are caught in that mist at just the right angle, the light forms a diffuse arc that’s basically white in colour.

The main difference from a rainbow here is that instead of refraction, the light waves are diffracted (scattered) through each individual droplet, overlapping all the colours and forming a haze.

A recent stunning example of a ghostly white fogbow has been doing the rounds after it was captured by British landscape photographer Melvin Nicholson. He was taking photos on a cold and misty day on Rannoch Moor in Glen Coe, Scotland, when suddenly a fogbow emerged, providing the perfect frame for a lone tree.

The winning shot went viral on social media and brought lots of attention for the photographer who regularly does landscape photography workshops, including the iconic and rugged Scottish highlands of Isle of Skye and Glen Coe.

"It's an amazing thing to witness and can generally only be seen if the sun is behind you when you are looking at it,” Nicholson told BBC News of the lucky fogbow shot.

"It was just beyond magical and one of those days that you'll remember for a long time to come."

Explore more of Scotland’s magical scenery in this week’s Wild Scotland marathon
from 9.30pm on Nat Geo WILD!

Featured image: A fogbow captured in the Australian outback (Leah-Anne Thompson, Shutterstock)

Discuss this article


Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address