Genesis :9 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between God and the earth.
Late Friday afternoon we were sitting outside on the veranda trying to catch the cool breeze after a very hot and uncomfortable day. Clouds were building on the horizon and we hoped for one of the thunderstorms for which Pretoria is renowned.
Big white cumulus clouds were billowing in the sky interspersed with brilliant blue patches and wispy cirrus clouds. The sun was still quite high and lit the clouds from behind. Suddenly we saw a strange phenomenon, colours of the rainbow started to appear in a break in the clouds.It grew bigger and more colourful untill it seemed the whole cloud was framed at the top by rainbow colours. I grabbed my camera and started shooting pictures while watching the show in awe. The colours became brighter and spread, framing the cloud . After about ten minutes it faded and suddenly it was gone, leaving only ordinary clouds in the sky and me wondering did I really see it?
What did we see?
From what I could gather it was a rare phenomenon called a fire rainbow or to be more precise a circumhorizontal arc – an ice halo formed by hexagonal, plate-shaped ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds. When the sun is very high in the sky, sunlight entering the flat, hexagon shaped ice crystals is split into individual colors just like in a prism.The halo is so large that it appears to be horizontal to an observer.
Furthermore the conditions to form a fire rainbow must be very precise. The sun has to be at an elevation of 58° or greater, there has to be high altitude cirrus clouds with plate-shaped ice crystals, and sunlight has to enter the ice crystals at a specific angle.
The position of the observer is also important.It is said that circumhorizontal arcs cannot be seen in locations north of 55°N or south of 55°S. However Pretoria is situated at 25.7461° S, which makes the whole experience even more remarkable.
The sight also reminded me of scripture and the covenant between God and the people of the earth as described in Genesis 9. When I read this passage in the Bible again, I realised that no matter what the year 2015 holds in store for me, His covenant and His promise never to leave me or forsake me stands firm. Therefore I will take this beautiful sight with me as a reminder when difficult times come to trust in the Lord and know that I am never alone.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.