Photo courtesy of Preston Witgenstein

This sunset is from Jackson County, north of Sneads at Three Rivers State Park.

These are high clouds, know as cirrus. They are usually white and wispy looking in nature, but can appear grayish when backlit by the sun. They are so elevated in the atmosphere that they are made up most exclusively of crystals.

This cloud type is usually associated with high pressure and drier air, but can also form from the anvil of dying thunderstorm.

These clouds appear reddish-orange and yellow due to the scattering of light at sunset. When the sun lowers in the evening, it takes a longer time for the suns beams to reach across Earths atmosphere due to the stronger angle.

When light takes a longer time to refract and scatter, the more yellow, orange, and red the sky appears.

Scientifically this cloud is classified as cirrus spissatus. Spissatus means “thick” in Latin, because it is a more tightly packed typed of cirrus cloud.

These clouds are arranged in elongated bands spanning from left to right of the picture, this is an indication of high level winds.

There is also a cross section of banded but even more dissipated clouds just underneath the main cirrus clouds, these are likely left over contrails from a airplane.

A contrail, is short for “condensation trail” which is the long line-shaped cloud which are sometimes visible behind an airplane.

Contrails can be hard to recognize, especially when high level winds cause them to flatten out and disperse. They are easiest to discern when they are fresh in the sky.