A photographer has captured incredible footage of technicolor trail behind a Qatar Airways Boeing 777. The footage looks too good to be real, but there is a simple explanation for it.
Brisbane-based photographer Michael Marston began taking photographs of airplanes in the sky three years ago because his girlfriend Tracy is a Qantas flight attendant. He thought it would be a good idea to take a photo of an airplane she was staffing pass by the moon. However, in taking the photographs, he noticed that given the right conditions, some airplanes flying overhead look like they have a unique rainbow trail behind them.
According to Marston, it is not usually something that people can see clearly because airplanes are so far up in the sky, but given the right specialized equipment, it can be captured.
Marston has captured images of this phenomenon, but he recently captured a video of it and it looks so stunning that it almost looks fake. However, the footage is very real, and to prove it, he posted both the video and the still images showing the technicolor trail following a Qatar Airways aircraft.
The temperature drops and the pressure decreases when an airplane is flying at high altitude. With enough moisture in the air, the vapor behind the airplane freezes and turns into ice crystals. Just like with rainbows, the technicolor effect occurs when the ice crystals are aligned at just the right angle with the sun.
At 50 meters, the particles are still small and reflect mainly blue light. However, the farther the ice particles become and the farther they are from the airplane, the wavelength of the light they reflect also becomes longer, and yellow, green, and red come into the mix. At about 175 meters away, the ice particles no longer grow evenly and only appears white.
For Marston, he likens capturing footage of the phenomenon to fishing in that it can be frustrating but rewarding at the same time. Recently, he also fulfilled his mission of capturing an image of the airplane Tracy was staffing flying by the moon.