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The Appendix

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The Crepuscular Rays

The Crepuscular Rays Gallery Index Go Down Go Up
What does Crepuscular Mean?
The Glossary found in the appendix on this site defines Crepuscular: (cre´pus·cu·lar) adj. 1. Of, pertaining to, or resembling twilight.
What are Crepuscular Rays?
The same glossary further states that crepuscular rays are a colorful display, usually at sunrise or sunset formed from rays of sunlight breaking through the clouds, illuminating dust particles in the air and radiating from the sun in a sweeping arc. These radiating rays can be upward of downward in direction.
With that said, If a person would take the time to keep watch in the sky, then the person most likely come upon one of the most common unpredictable nonpareils known as crepuscular rays. In fact, most people have already seen crepuscular rays before and have just referred to them as sun rays.
The word crepuscular is an adjective meaning that which is of, relating to, or resembling twilight. Therefore, crepuscular rays are those rays of sunlight that occur during twilight, or those rays that resembles ones during twilight. In this gallery, those which are most common, the ones which occur during dayspring and evenfall are the main displays to be shown.
However, twilight is not the only time when colorful sun rays occur and sometimes, these other occurrences can be just and awe inspiring. Oftentimes, these can be seen on a cloudy day when the sun rays break through the clouds with beams of light. Other times, while walking beneath tall trees, the sun′s light can filter down through the branches and bring to sight amazing streaks of light.

Do Crepuscular Rays actually converge?
No. Crepuscular rays appear to converge on the sun, anticrepuscular rays appear to converge in the opposite direction, on the antisolar point. Both type of rays are most often seen at the suntouch, evening or morning. Anticrepuscular rays are almost always much dimmer than crepuscular rays.
Although both types of rays appear to be converging on a distant point, they are in fact nearly parallel shafts of sunlight. This appearance of converging is due to linear perspective, or what is also called the vanishing points of sight.
For example, stand on a straight railroad track and look at the track in the distance. What does it appear to do? The two tracks appear to converge towards the horizon. Turn around and the opposite direction will appear the same way.
This is the perspective of the vanishing points. Despite the appearance that the rails are converging, they actually stay parallel. Crepuscular and anticrepuscular rays behave in exactly the same way, they only appear to converge.

When to See Crepuscular Rays?
One of the most amazing time for displays of crepuscular rays is at suntouch, when the horizon is full of color which stretches across to the sky to the opposite horizon. Too, it is at these times when there is the makings of the anticrepuscular.

In The Clouds Go Down Go Up
Crepuscual in the Clouds
(m5cr-clouds.20130823.1701) Summer afternoon storm display near Flagstaff, AZ.

In The Forest Go Down Go Up
Crepuscular in the Forest
(m5cr-fo.20130718.1015) Driving south in northern California Redwood park

In The Twilight Go Down Go Up
Crepuscular in the Twilight
(m5cr-tw.20091008.0621) Morning Suntouch at Arches National park, Utah.

The Anticrepuscular Gallery Go Down Go Up
(m5cr-xanticrepuscular) Anticrepuscular Rays photo: wikimedia commons

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by Thom Buras
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