Thousands of residents in multiple towns and cities in Costa Rica witnessed a mysterious cloud formation on Tuesday, September 15, the country's Independence Day.
The spectacle attracted large crowds in the capital city, San Jose, bringing sections of the city almost to a standstill as astonished residents stood in the streets looking up in the sky.
The cloud, which appeared as a multicolored and luminous formation, was sighted by thousands of mystified residents in San Jose, Parrita, Pavas, Escazu and Hatillo, according to ABC News.
The colorful iridescence of the cloud left many residents in awe and thousands took to social media, posting photos and videos of the strange, luminous formation in the sky.
Many commented that it looked like an "end of times" cloud, that is, an apocalyptic portent in the skies. Some described it as a "sign of God," while others suggested it was caused by an alien UFO hidden in the clouds.
A resident of San Jose, Joey Petit, told ABC News that he was at a playground with his family when his 11-year-old son, Ariel, noticed the strange formation. The boy drew his father's attention to the phenomenon, grabbed his camera and began snapping pictures. He also shot a video (see below).
"He immediately grabbed the camera and started taking video and photos. We were just so amazed. We had no idea what it was and we'd never seen anything like it."Ariel's photo shows the multicolored and iridescent cloud formation over San Jose.
Jessie Montealegre, who lives in Escazu, said she was awestruck by the amazing phenomenon.
"It was breathtaking. It's like a sign of God."But scientists say the phenomenon, termed "cloud iridescence," was caused by droplets of water and ice crystals refracting the sun's light rays.
An expert, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, told the Daily Mail that the cloud formation is also known as a pileus cloud. It is observed occasionally when storm clouds form.
"It grows taller and taller and it can encounter winds building across the top of it and it can push it up and act like an obstacle.Eladio Solano, with Costa Rica's National Meteorological Institute, also told the national news outlet Teletica News, that the iridescence was caused by water droplets and ice crystals refracting light from the sun.
"This can cause ice crystals and water droplets to form and leads to the beautiful and iridescent appearance. It's not a common cloud to see."
[Photo via YouTube screen capture]