Photographer captures image of bizarre striped sunset

·2 min read

An Oklahoma-based photographer captured a stunning phenomenon in nearby Kansas as the sun set over the Great Plains, and AccuWeather meteorologists are able to explain how this unusual sunset got set in motion.

Rather than seeing a sunset where the entire sky was illuminated in the typical orange glow one might expect as evening approaches, photographer Jazz Bishop caught a sunset that made it look like the sky was glitching.

The sky glowed orange, but in stripes, as the sun sets over Sabetha, Kansas, on May 30. (Jazz Bishop)

Only certain parts of the sky glowed orange, rather than the whole sky being painted in the typical array of sunset colors. What was even more peculiar were the glowing and non-glowing areas that were nearly perfectly straight, giving off the appearance of separate orange stripes in the sky.

The phenomenon, filmed from a few different angles in Sabetha, Kansas, on May 30, can be explained by meteorologists, though it is not precisely clear what happened.

The stunning sunset could be attributed to either crepuscular or anticrepuscular rays, which are typically identified by the contrast between the orange rays and nearby darker skies at sunset or sunrise. The major difference between the two is the direction they converge toward -- crepuscular rays point toward the sun, while anticrepuscular rays converge opposite the sun.

Crepuscular Rays

Crepuscular rays at sunrise in Portugal on Sept. 1, 2018. (Flickr/Kees Scherer)

The dark regions between the rays are commonly known as cloud shadows, which help give the rays in the sky further definition. When the sunlight during sunrise and sunset is obstructed by clouds, the cloud itself can leave its shadow across the skies.

Cloud shadows operate essentially as the inverse of crepuscular and anticrepuscular rays, leaving streaks of darkness in the skies, while the latter phenomena are literally glowing columns of sunlight in the sky.

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