1. Volcanic lightning

Volcanic lightning at Mount Sakurajima, Japan. Kyodo/Reuters

We know what you’re thinking, how can
volcanoes produce lightning?

But they do.

Scientists are quite baffled about this
occurrence too, but they have some
ideas, one of which presumes that
volcanic lightning occurs tiny particles of
ash in a volcano rub together to create

2. Fire rainbows — sorry, we mean ‘circumhorizon arcs’

A fire rainbow in Pennsylvania fishhawk/Flickr


Circumhorizon arcs – or fire rainbows as

they’re popularly known, have nothing

to do with fire themselves.


They’re just a trick of the light, and form

when sunlight passes through a specific

type of icy clouds.

3. Halos

A bird flies underneath an atmospheric phenomenon known as a “sun dog” in the sky over Seaside Heights, New Jersey, May 14, 2013. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Halos are similar to fire rainbows in the

sense that they’re also formed due to

the bending of sunlight when it passes

through ice formations

in clouds.



In this case however, the light bends in

such a way that it creates a ring, or

“halo” in the sky.

4. Penitentes

Penitentes in front of the Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter Array telescope and the Licancabur volcano in northern Chile. European Southern Observatory/Flickr

Penitentes are an ice formation that

usually takes place in high- altitude

areas. They are created due to a process

called sublimation, where water turns

directly into vapours from ice, instead of

 melting into the liquid state first.


Penitentes can be very high and reach

up to 15 feet, reflecting the light in long


5. Pele’s hair lava

Pele’s Hair (field of view ~3 cm across) – Pele’s hair refers to extremely long threads of brownish- to blackish-colored basalt glass (sideromelane & tachylite). It forms as very fluid basalt lava spray is stretched while airborne. Achneliths (Pele’s tears – the small, black, glassy structures) are often found attached to one end of individual threads. Multiple threads can be found attached to some achnelith masses. James St. John/Flickr


The most popular region for Pele’s Hair

 is the island of Hawaii, but this

phenomena is not just limited to Hawaii,

but is also found in some mountains in

Italy and Ethiopia too. Basically, Pele’s hair is shards of basalt glass (sideromelane & tachylite) that blew around in the wind after a volcano and cools down mid-air, forming thin, hair-like bunches. They’re named after the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, but in different parts of the world, this hair-like glass has different names.

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