Tuesday, July 17, 2007


There are spectacular dragonflies here in summer, and sometimes one can discern a wild truth in the iridescent shimmer of a Twelve Spotted Skimmer's wings too - even when the wind is dancing across the hill or through the hedgerow and setting everything there in motion.

The iridescence is something magical, a naturally occurring phenomenon in which the wings change color constantly because their many layered semi-transparent surfaces generate multiple reflections in the eyes of a patient observer - sometimes the camera lens, but usually just a faint shimmer.

The physics of the phenomenon are absolutely fascinating, but they are unnecessary here for the moment. The word iridescent comes from the Greek iris (or plural irides) meaning rainbow, and it all begins with the goddess Iris who personified the rainbow on Mount Olympus and acted as a messenger of the gods.


Anonymous said...

Good morning kerrdelune,

It's a beautiful photo. I'd never considered the etymology of the beautiful word "iridescent." With the physics tidbit added in, this is a really satisfying post.

I was just over at a pond in our large arboretum. The mosquitos in the forest on the way over were terrible, but once we got to the pond, the mosquitos disappeared. We realized that our friends the dragonflies were providing DEET-free mosquito protection.

mandaroo63 said...

He's magnificent (I opened the picture to get a better look). I almost named my Olivia, Iris. I love it as a name.

Anonymous said...

Pretty! I have been photographing dragons and damsels this summer, but haven't come across this one.

nasreen basu said...
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