Hi-res satellite captures glorious image over Guadalupe Island
The MODIS satellite instrument captured an amazing and beautiful view from space on Wednesday: a "glory" and a von Karman vortex train over Guadalupe Island (not to be confused with Guadelupe).
Glories are similar to rainbows in that they're caused by sunlight and water droplets, but they form in a slightly different way. A glory is typically seen in the fog when the shadow of the observer is cast onto the the mist or fog, and is always seen opposite the sun from the perspective of the viewer. You maybe have seen a glory when on a flight, looking down at a deck of clouds. There will appear to be a halo around the plane's shadow. In this case, the "viewer" is the satellite. Glories appear as circles, but, as NASA says:
MODIS scans the Earth’s surface in swaths perpendicular to the path followed by the satellite. And since the swaths show horizontal cross sections through the rings of the glory, the glory here appears as two elongated bands of color that run parallel to the path of the satellite, rather than a full circle.
von Karman Vortex?
This is a pattern of swirls in a fluid, named after the scientist that discovered the conditions under which they occur. Have you ever put your finger in a flowing stream of fluid? These swirls form in the wake of an obstacle. In this case, the obstacle is Guadalupe Island, and the fluid is the atmosphere. When thin, stratocumulus clouds are present, we're lucky enough to see the phenomenon (from space, of course).
See the full resolution version here.