Crepuscular Rays

 Crespuscular Rays, Copyright Craig Johnson

Crespuscular Rays, Copyright Craig Johnson

These dramatic streaks are called crepuscular rays. They may occur any time the Sun is up and there are clouds in the sky. The dark bands in this photo are shadows cast by cloud tops intercepting light from the setting Sun. Since the Sun is near the horizon these shadows are cast at a low angle and are passing overhead.

More commonly crepuscular rays are aimed at the ground, created when the Sun is much higher in the sky with alternating bright and dark banding. In weather lore the streaks are thought to be drawing water and therefore are a sign of rain. In this case sprinkles occurred at my location while other nearby areas stayed completely dry. For some the rays “drew water” while for others they did not - at least if you believe the weather lore. In any case, crepuscular rays often create dramatic scenes that can be photogenic.