Glory II

On a flight from Detroit to San Jose via Chicago then San Diego (I’m a cheapskate who rarely pays more for a non-stop flight) I briefly saw a glory on Saturday evening:

A glory over a plane wing
A glory against a field of clouds over San Diego
Another view of the glory, to the right of the plane wing
The plane is making a sweeping turn to the left, so here the glory appears further to the right
Continuing the arc, the glory appears further to the right of the wing, which is just barely in the bottom left corner of the picture
One last picture of the glory while the plane continues its arc...
...and a brief video clip of the glory near the end of the plane's arc

I wouldn’t have seen it but for an aborted landing (aborted while still several hundred feet up in the air, not sure why it happened), in which we banked left and ascended above the layer of clouds above San Diego for another pass at landing. Sometimes short delays while flying can be a good thing. The glory was only visible, if you were looking, for perhaps thirty seconds or so until the arc of flight exceeded the optical angle I could see through two windows near me.

This is the second time I’ve seen a glory while flying; the first time was on a flight from Boston to Minneapolis last year.



A glory, an optical phenomenon in which a circular rainbow appears on a background of water droplets when the sun is directly behind the observer
Glory and cloud horizon
Glory and cloud horizon
Glory and tip of plane wing
Glory and tip of plane wing
The glory, part of the plane wing, framed at bottom by the airplane window
A little further zoomed out
The glory and the plane wing, as the plane shadow begins to be visible
The glory and the plane wing, as the plane shadow begins to be visible
The glory just beneath the furthest hydraulic motor on the wing, with a brilliant blue sky above
The best of the glory pictures
The glory just underneath the wing, with the plane's shadow now unmistakable
After further descent the plane's shadow is now unmistakable
The glory, seen during mostly level flying (original video)
The glory and airplane shadow, seen during descent into the clouds (original video)

…all taken in the waning minutes of my flight from BOSMSP yesterday, returning from MIT‘s Mystery Hunt to the Bay Area (following a long stretch of working and hacking on Mozilla remotely in areas which, in contrast to the Bay Area, have proper winter climes).

For more of this sort of thing, I highly recommend watching the famous “rainbow lecture” given by MIT’s Walter Lewin, the professor under whom I had the pleasure of taking 8.03. And yes, Walter Lewin is my homeboy.