Sun’s rays from down below the horizon? Cool phenomenon!


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – If you’ve ever seen the “heavenly rays” of light or the “sunbeams” shining when there are clouds and breaks in the clouds, you’ve seen crepuscular rays.

Crepuscular ray is a term that meteorologists use to describe the portion of light that you can see that shines between the clouds on those partly cloudy or partly sunny days.

The definition of crepuscular rays from the American Meteorological Society glossary reads:

“Literally “twilight rays,” these alternating dark and light bands (shadows and light scattered from sunbeams, respectively) seem to diverge fanlike from the sun’s position during twilight.”

AMS Glossary Entry

The sunbeams, or crepuscular rays, become more prominent when there is haze or dust in the atmosphere as well.

So when you see the same beams coming up from behind the hill or down below the ground? Guess what? Those are “anti-crepuscular rays” like the scene here:

Anti-crepuscular rays seen in Logan County, WV from Jennifer Rose Lane

With anti-crepuscular rays you see the beams of light and shadows emanating from either right along the horizon or even down below the horizon and pointing upward. With all of the hills around here, it’s not hard to see these on any given day or evening.

More examples taken from our Facebook pages over the years:

Cloud shadow causes anti-crepuscular rays in Charleston June 2019 – Staff photo
More anti-crepuscular rays in the skies over Kanawha County – staff photo

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