I saw a video the other day that was shot from the Space Shuttle during take-off. It was pretty interesting watching the accelerating speed and the perspective from space when the roundness of earth came into view. There were scattered clouds and darkness, spheres of light, and endless distance as the shuttle flew faster and faster away. Seeing those clouds, the earth, and light made me think of how small our view is standing on our two feet and looking up, and yet how much it still dazzles us.
A month or so ago I saw this photograph of Vadersolstavlan a 1636 reproduction of a 1535 painting. It's called The Sun Dog Painting, depicting halo displays of April 20, 1535 in Stockholm. There's just something about knowing that someone looked up into these beautiful skies and saw halos and sun dogs, and was moved to paint what he saw. I thought about the first 57 years of my life when I saw sunrises, sunsets, and rainbows, but never knew other phenomenon even existed. There must have been arcs and halos, sun dogs and crepuscular rays that just went by unnoticed. I do remember one drive across country seeing some clouds off in the distance, maybe it was in Kansas or Oklahoma, that were brightly and unusually colored. My then-boyfriend Michael D and I remarked on the crazy light green cloud, and wondered how such a thing was possible. It was in those early hippie days when we must have thought just seeing it meant we were special. It was there for us. You know how that is.
Now I wonder what it might have been like to have been observant all those years, but not having the internet at my fingertips. What if I did see halos and iridescent clouds, anti-crepuscular rays and circumhorizon arcs, how would I have even begun to research such things in 1965 or 1981? The first rainbow colored cloud I ever photographed was this one (above pic) taken from the beach house in Capitola in 2009. I called it a sun dog, and I have no idea how I came up with that term. It was really a beautiful circumhorizon arc.
I heard from Les Cowley last month, asking if my iridescent cloud photograph that he published on his website could be used by a professor who was writing a book "Setting Up a Weather Station and Understanding the Weather: A Guide For the Amateur Meteorologist." I said yes, of course! The chapter it will be in is on observations. This was the first iridescent cloud I ever photographed. I called it a sun dog too. This is the cloud that made me turn on the computer and research rainbow colored clouds. That's how I found Atmospheric Optics. I wrote Les Cowley, and he kindly responded and answered my questions. What is this crazy cloud formation? Help!