The science and the imagery associated with flying are incredible, and often feel magical. Case in point: The mysterious and elusive “glory,” also known as a pilot’s halo.

Photo via Joel Tonyan.

A glory is a halo-shaped circular rainbow in the clouds. The halo surrounds a shadow.When this happens on the ground with low lying clouds and the shadow is cast from a human, it’s known as a Brocken spectre. When it happens in the air, the shadow is in whatever shape craft you’re flying in. Typically jets and planes, but it could be other things such as this hot air balloon.

Photo via Michael J. Slezak (JW).

Because the halo typically surrounds the shadow of an aircraft, they’re also known as a pilot’s halo. Some see it as a good omen, others as a sign of potential danger. Either way, pilots often are the ones who have the best views and ability to see them. However, anyone who has a window seat has a chance.

A fellow flight attendant just posted a pic of one that she spied on her commute to work. It was stunning.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.18.41 PM

Glories seem a little otherworldly, and there are multiple theories behind the science that creates them. They look like they should belong to the land of Oz or at least the movies, but they’re real. So far I’ve only seen them in photographs, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled next time I’m in a window seat. So should you. Who knows, maybe one of us will get lucky.

— Laura Rowley





Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.


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