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!

 

In a world forever looking down…

it pays to look up!

DSC_9373-EditForests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes-every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man.

Orison Swett Marden

Crystals in the clouds…and the occasional display like this one only makes me long for more opportunities to see and photograph them.

This was an amazing display spanning about 15 minutes and although I had my camera with me, I was not dressed to be laying in the snow capturing it.

The brightest by far was the circumzenithal arc at the top which is touching the supralateral arc. Down from that is a parry arc, an upper tangent arc, and a 22 degree halo. Also appearing in other images were sundogs and a brief appearance of a parhelic circle.

This is my second opportunity capturing two of the more rare arcs, a supralateral visible on average 4.2 times a year, and a parry visible 1.1 times a year.

I credit the knowledge that I’ve gained about this atmospheric phenomena to the renowned physicist Les Cowley of Atmospheric Optics . I am always humbled when people of such stature find time to encourage and relate to someone like myself: just a girl with a camera in North Idaho. That in itself was a learning experience: reach out to others who share your passions.

I use my camera to explore. Looking though its lens has led me on countless voyages of discovery from halos and iridium flares to the stone houses of the October caddis.

I couldn’t wait to get home and change out of my cold, snow laden clothes and view my images on a larger screen. Better than any fireworks display and most definitely a gift from the universe.

Take time to look around you, go on an expedition, and don’t forget to look up!

Note: Never view the sun through your camera and never look directly at it. Photographing images this bright could damage your camera.

An atmospheric optic adventure…

and a thrilling email conversation with physicist Les Cowley.

DSC_7708-5

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

Albert Einstein

Do you ever wake up and just know that something is going to happen?

Last Saturday I let the dogs out early in the morning and noted the appearance of some of my most favorite clouds…cirrus and cirrostratus. Those of you who know me well know of my love for photographing ice, snowflakes, and other crystalline structures found in the winter months so it’s only natural that these delicate clouds composed of ice crystal would draw my attention in the summer!

These clouds are the ones capable of producing atmospheric phenomena like halos, arcs, and iridescent clouds.

The first to appear was a 22 degree halo and iridescent clouds. As the day wore on and the clouds showed no signs of dissipating I started to feel excitement building that I might spot a circumzenithal arc, often called a grin in the sky as it looks like an upside down rainbow.

As the sun began to get lower in the sky I walked outside scanning all parts of the sky and discovered the appearance of a sundog. And then I saw it…circumzenithal arc! Moving quickly I tried to capture as many views as possible but couldn’t quell a nagging thought that there was also something in those images that I didn’t understand so after the last light faded I came inside to research halos on my favorite site atoptics. I came to the conclusion that the secondary arc that I was curious about might be a tangent arc but hoping for some clarification I emailed Les Cowley (atoptics), retired physicist and atmospheric optics expert.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I got a response back that began with congratulations, you saw two rare arcs-a supralateral and also a Parry arc. The Parry arc is named for William Edward Parry who diagramed this arc in 1820 while icebound on his search for the northwest passage.

This lovely man also took the time to provide me with an enhanced, labeled view of my image.

aoptics, Les Cowley-3

I’m not sure what surprised me the most, that I photographed these rare arcs or that Mr Cowley took the time to do this for me, a novice skywatcher who studies clouds and atmospherics in her spare time.

One of those days that I will remember for a very long time and as I shared with Mr Cowley, I’m afraid that you may have just created a monster!

His delightful response? Feed the monster…and I fully intend to!

If you’re interested in these ice halos I would encourage you to visit http://www.atoptics.co.uk where you will find a veritable treasure trove of information.