As the sun’s light is reflected and refracted through our atmosphere, elements in the air, such as water, ice, and dust, disperse light to form meteorological phenomena such as rainbows, sunbeams, and halos.

At the Light Island exhibit, created for NCAR by the Exploratorium Museum, visitors discover how to manipulate these processes for themselves by using mirrors and plastic lenses to bend light.

Various divisions at NCAR use optical instruments to do their research. One of those is the Atmospheric Chemistry Division (ACD); to learn more about its research, click on http://www.ncar.ucar.edu/ncar/acd.html. Within the division there are several projects that depend on advanced optical designs to make their analyses. For example, click on ACD’s High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS) project that is part of NASA’s satellite Earth Observing System: http://eos/ucar.edu/hirdls, or click on ACD’s Mauna Loa Photochemistry Experiment (MLOPEX) project: http://acd.ucar.edu/mlopex.html.