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EarthSky // Earth, Science Wire Release Date: Jul 10, 2015

Crepuscular rays, aka sunrays, around the world

Those beams of light shooting out from the horizon or down from the clouds are called crepuscular rays, or sunrays. Beautiful, mysterious and very noticeable.

Lake Garda in Italy, by Luca Milevoj. Thank you, Luca.

Lake Garda in Italy, by Luca Milevoj. Thank you, Luca.

Crepuscular means like twilight or dim. That’s a clue that this effect is often seen around sunrise or sunset, when the sky is somewhat dark. Crepuscular rays may appear to fan across the sky, but the rays are really parallel to each other. They appear to diverge, much as a road that looks narrow in the distance appears wide beneath your feet. Airborne dust, droplets of water and the air molecules themselves are what make the sunrays visible. Next time you see them, remember to turn around. You might be in luck and see fainter and less noticeable anticrepuscular rays.

Most of these photos came from friends at EarthSky Facebook. Thank you so much for sharing your photos with us!

Image Credit: Mila Zinkova via Wikimedia Commons

“Mountain Side Sun Kiss” – taken in New Zealand while in flight on a helicopter – by EarthSky Facebook friend Zak Michaels Photography. See more of his work here. Used with permission.

Image via Steve Case in the U.K.

Johnson City, TN, Photo credit: Roseanne Harter Haaland. Roseanne says, ‘The scene reminded me of the movie about CS Lewis with Anthony Hopkins, “Shadowlands”.’

Sun rays, or crepuscular rays, seen off the coast of Croatia by EarthSky Facebook friend Luca Milevoj.

Pune, India. Photo credit: Lakshmi Ravishankar

Western Colorado. Photo credit: Allen Lefever

Lewisville, TX. Photo credit: Justin Barron

Photo credit: Cesar Tejedor

Photo credit: Lewistown StormWatcher in Missouri.

Photo credit: Jaime Balderas

Photo credit: Howard Harner

Caamano Point, Alaska. Photo credit: Les Ramsey

Jamshedpur, India. Photo credit: Dolly Navina Lakra

Photo from EarthSky Facebook friend Peter Jones Dela Cruz.  Thanks to Peter and all who posted photos!

Photo from EarthSky Facebook friend Peter Jones Dela Cruz. Thanks to Peter and all who posted photos!

Bottom line: Beams of light shooting out from horizon, or from the clouds, are called crepuscular rays, or sunrays. These columns of sunlit air are beautiful, mysterious and very noticeable. Photo gallery here.

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