Earth Day…

an affirmation of beauty.DSC_4859-Edit-3When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.

John Muir

I celebrated the start of Earth Day by spending a good part of the night outside on a cot bundled up against the 34 degree temperature.

This year the celebration coincided with the Lyrid meteor showers and as an added bonus, the Northern Lights made an appearance.

The hooting from a Great Horned Owl resonated through the still night air.

Night time is time of rest and rejuvenation and for me nothing fills my soul more than connecting with the natural world around me. I didn’t take many photos last night because I wanted to just soak up the beauty of a clear night sky. We haven’t had many of those lately.

This past week was filled with so many exhilarating moments.

A lightning storm that sent hail cascading off of my metal roof in quantities that I have not seen before.

Another halo event, not as vividly colorful as some of the others I have had the good fortune to observe but this one brought me another rare arc from my bucket list; a Wegener arc, named for scientist Alfred Wegener who first discovered it.

Icing on top of the cake came in the form of confirmation and congratulations from renowned physicist Les Cowley of atoptics . Also visible, 22 degree halo, circumscribed arc, and parhelic circle all created by ice crystals in cirrus clouds.

I still recall a poster that I had when I was very young. It was a cloud chart.

Full circle.

Celebrate Earth Day and take a few minutes to soak in some of the beauty of your natural world.

 

Good morning cirrus clouds…

and another exciting halo event!

DSC_3455There is no luck except where there is discipline.

Irish Proverb

I’m breaking my weekly blog post routine to write a follow-up on yesterday’s post. I wrote that one on Saturday night to publish in the morning and upon going outside saw cirrus clouds and a 22 degree halo forming around the rising sun. While these are more common than rainbows, occurring on average 100 times a year, what happened a little later was very exciting for me.

Halos are formed by orientation of different types of crystals in the atmosphere and size, shape, alignment, and perfection all play a role. Type of crystal, column or plate, play a role in what type of halo appears and when I see a combination of ice halos start to appear, indicating the presence of both types of crystals…I start to pay attention.

This happened yesterday when I saw a solitary sundog appear to the left of the 22 degree halo. Sundogs are those bright rainbow colored spots that occasionally appear to the left and right of the 22 degree halo encircling the sun.

Although I may not see another group of halos like I photographed in yesterday’s blog post again since some of those halos are only visible on average 1-4 times a year, I’m always excited at the possibility.

On Sunday morning my persistence paid off and I was able to add a parhelic circle, visible on average 4 times a year, and a 120 degree parhelia, visible 1.2 times a year on average, to my collection! I also captured a supralateral or possible 46 degree halo, the two are often hard to differentiate between and occur on average 4.2 times a year, and a circumscribed arc.

In the image above, the 22 degree halo is in the bottom right, the parhelic circle is the white halo extending up the top left, and that small circular spot just above midline on the circle is the 120 degree parhelia.

I credit as always, Les Cowley of Atmospheric Optics for all of the knowledge that I’ve gained about this fascinating subject and the assistance that he provides me in identifying halos that I might not be familiar with.  I encourage you to check out his site and can assure you that you will be amazed at what you will see and read about there!