Residents of the Central American country of Costa Rica were treated to a spectacle in the sky on Tuesday, Sept. 15, when strange yet breathtaking cloud formations suddenly appeared above the cities of Hatillo, Escazu, and San Jose.
The presence of iridescent clouds billowing in the sky, which coincided with Costa Rica's Independence Day, has left witnesses awestruck, many of which took photographs and videos and posted them on social media. Some observers even noted that the cloud formations could be an omen of the "end of times."
Joey Petit, one of the residents of who witnessed the mysterious phenomenon earlier this week, told reporters how his 11-year-old son, Ariel Joseph, first noticed the multi-hued cloud formations in the sky while they were at a local playground in Escazu.
He said that after spotting the strange clouds, Ariel Joseph quickly took their camera and began recording photographs and videos of the formations.
Petit added that seeing the iridescent clouds left him and his family amazed. They do not know what the phenomenon was as they have never seen anything like it.
Jessie Montealegre, another resident of Escazu City, said that she was also astounded by the mysterious cloud formations.
"It was breathtaking," Montealegre said. "It's like a sign of God."
While many people on social media have offered different interpretations regarding the origin of the iridescent clouds, with some even suggesting that there were linked to extraterrestrial beings, scientists and other experts said that the multi-hued cloud formation is caused by an uncommon weather occurrence known as cloud iridescence.
Meteorologist Eladio Solano, of the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) in Costa Rica, explained that this optical effect occurs when the light from the sun is refracted by ice crystals and water droplets in the clouds, giving the light a more colorful luminescence.
Solano said that the cluster of clouds observed on Independence Day grew considerably, allowing it to refract more sunlight and produce a more striking optical effect.
Last month, a similar phenomenon occurred in South Carolina, which resulted in a colorful spectacle in the sky. People who say this natural event called it a "fire rainbow."