See it! Crepuscular rays

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.

Image via Nicholas Holshouser.

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.

All of these photos were contributed by EarthSky friends. Thanks for sharing your awesome photos with us!

Marble View, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona. Image via Gaelyn Olmsted.

Image via Mark Hunter.

Image via Robin Reilly.

Prince Rupert, British Columbia, via footeprints unlimited.

Sunrays over the Gulf of Mexico. Photo via Rick Trommater.

Image via Allison Lewis.

Image via Steve Case in the U.K.

Photo via Lewistown Storm Watcher.

Photo via Howard Harner.

Western Colorado. Photo via Allen Lefever.

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

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

James Younger frequently camps at Vancouver Island and catches many wonderful sky sights from its shores. He captured these crepuscular rays – or moon rays – in August 2017.

Bottom line: Photos of crepuscular rays, or sunrays.

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Eleanor Imster