Sky Priestess

It’s one of the rarest meteorological phenomenon – and beach goers were treated to the sight of it for over an hour.

An incredible ‘fire rainbow’ floated in the air over South Carolina on Sunday, thankfully lingering so that it could be photographed and posted to social media.

The phenomenon is actually a cloud formation, formally referred to as a circumhorizontal arc.

A rare ‘fire rainbow’ was spotted overhead on August 19 (last year) along a beach in Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Viewers were understandably enchanted by the iridescent cloud over the Isle of Palms.

One visitor, Tracey Smith, even noted that the cloud resembled a multi-coloured angel hovering in the sky in her Instagram snap.

Tracey also said that the cloud formation lasted overhead for about an hour, reported the local

The phenomenon was first dubbed a ‘fire rainbow’ back in 2006, when one was spotted by a Washington journalist. And meteorologist Justin Lock told 14 News that a strict set of conditions are required for such phenomena to appear.

They only occur in high-level cirrus clouds, which usually form about 18,000ft. They appear thin and wispy and are made up of tiny ice crystals.

‘To produce the rainbow colours the sun’s rays must enter the ice crystals at a precise angle to give the prism effect of the color spectrum,’ Lock said, adding the sun must be at an altitude of at least 58 degrees above the horizon.

The same sort of thing occurs when we see coloruful sunsets. In those instances, high-level cirrus clouds produce many colours due to the sun’s low angle, meaning that we see reds, oranges and purples.

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