CINDY DAY: a peak in the weather Cindy days column Weather | Weather on day | Again

I grew up in a Catholic household. After my first communion, I got a small card to store at my bed and later in my bag. It was a prayer card. The photo at the front was breathtaking: rays of sunlight radiate through ominous clouds. I recently ran into that little card. (It's in my bag again – it does not hurt.)

To be honest, it felt kind of weird, now looking at it, knowing more about the science behind the rays.

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The rays are called diffraction peaks. They are lines that emanate from a bright light source on photo 's; they make a lot of sunsets seem pretty heavenly on the late day. Where do these broad stripes or peaks of light come from?

Under most circumstances, sunlight does indeed appear to come to us in rays, although we really see that sunlight is spreading through particles in the atmosphere.

The reason the sun may have rays in photos is that the edges of the lenses and the hardware that holds them in place can cause the light to bend around obstacles and interfere with a pattern that distorts the shape. from the optics or whatever it reflects.

But we also see those rays with the naked eye. The sun can even shine if you do not look through a lens, because your eye is also an optic. Your eye has a lens whose curvature and diameter are controlled by the muscles in your iris. The edges of the iris are quite rough. That causes some diffraction.

The same applies to stars. If I asked you to sign a star, I bet it would have points. Real stars, those in space, are round. Again, the diffraction peaks are created when light passes through a reflecting telescope. It results in what looks like rays that shoot from the center.

Another theory describes how eyelashes can work as the supporting structure of a telescope by blocking light. Put your eyes in the direction of a streetlight at night, and you will see some vertical lines.

A bit of science to explain the beauty of nature.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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