Rainbows, halos, coronas and glories are aesthetic features admired over millennia by man. They are also carriers of useful information about the physical properties of drops and solid particles floating in the atmospheres of the Earth and other planets. Although atmospheric optics is a centuries-old discipline, significant progress in the understanding of these phenomena has been achieved during the past forty years, as well as of their relation to the physical properties of the individual scatterers. At the same time, with the development of planetary exploration, the number of observations of rainbows, halos and glories in the atmosphere of planets other than the Earth is steadily growing. In this article we describe these phenomena, their information content, and illustrate them with pictures mostly showing their typical appearance rather than presenting the ‘best pictures ever’.
The article will appear in the March 2015 issue of BAMS.