both directions!

from click2pins last Saturday

I get a lot of pictures of those “Hallmark card” sunsets showing thin beaming rays of sunlight like the cover photo that came into last weekend.

These rays are called crepuscular rays and are caused when the sun slips below the horizon or behind low clouds, like in Liala’s case, and those clouds produce shadows causing the dark lines, thus the effect on the sun’s rays. This pic was submitted last weekend also, another great example of crepuscular rays:

From click2pins. Submitted by TwoTurtlesDancing Crepuscular rays views from Louetta Rd

What is more rare are anticrepuscular rays which are seen opposite the rising or setting sun. I’ve gotten two such pictures lately with one just this morning from Vickey Wachtel who asked, “What is causing this in the western sky at a little after 7:00 a.m.?”

Photo sent to me on Facebook this morning just at sunrise

Well, of course, the sun is causing it, just on the opposite side. Vickey’s photo is a stellar example of morning sunrise anticrepuscular rays occurring in the western sky as the sun rises in the east!

And just two days ago I received a sunset photo showing anticrepuscular rays in the eastern sky as the sun set in the west. MM put this pic on with the comment: “Cinco ranch looking East, looks like this shadow is originating from East, how is this possible, Frank?”

This photo was submitted to click2pins two days ago by MM

Of course, what is confusing is that in both of these pictures you’d think you were watching a sunrise or sunset, but they are opposite the sun. So what happens? The light from the rising or setting sun simply travels across the sky to its antisolar point and is then reflected by the clouds.

Wait, what is an antisolar point? That is the point exactly opposite the sun. Rainbows always form at the antisolar point, for example. Here is more on anticrepuscular rays.

So wherever you are looking this weekend, enjoy the view! Thanks again for all the Click2Pins you send in -- I appreciate them and I know our viewers do, too!


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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.