Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Suddenly There Were Arcs!

I know I have mentioned over and over how bleak and dreary the skies have been here. For an atmospheric optic lover like myself, it has been downright miserable. I run out every morning hoping for at least a hint of something that sunlight has brought to the persistent cloud cover, and every morning it's just been BLAH...until Monday. Oh my, the sky was blue with a scattering of wispy clouds.

I saw this.

It's a upper tangent arc. It wasn't the best I had ever seen, but I was dancing for joy. Oh when an upper tangent arc makes your day, you know you're crazy hooked on optics. I went out back to put the chimney between me and the sun, so I could get a better look. That's when I noticed a parhelic circle shining by the sundog (to the left of the chimney by the corner of the house). Do you see it too? I'm sure it's there.

I looked higher in the sky and saw a supralateral arc that was much more visible to my eye than it was to the camera's lens. It was a faint faint circle high above the upper tangent with an even fainter hint of a circumzenithal arc. It was there. I saw it. I danced some more.

Here's a view I found on the internet that shows where these arcs can be found in the sky.  
 Pretty cool stuff. If I had a bucket list,  seeing a sky just like that would definitely be on it.

Later in the day I noticed a 22 degree halo in a rather blue blue sky. It surprised me, and I was glad that the day of atmospheric optics continued until the clouds blew back in from the coast. I can hardly wait until next time.

11 comments:

  1. That's so cool! I saved your info photo, to use when I see these formations. What I see most of around here, though, are double and even triple rainbows, and moon halos. (And side-by-side moons, but that's just my old eyes being tired at the end of a long day.)

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  2. Interesting stuff. In England we're happy just to see the sun!

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  3. It warms my black and shriveled heart to see you so excited by this. I'm sure the same things appear in the skies above me, but I must be too dense to see them.

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  4. Lovely. Whenever I see a special sky I always think of you. You have me looking upward more and more.

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  5. Susannah-- It is truly amazing what we can see when we look up at the sky. The sun and ice crystals really make for some stunning views.

    John-- For those of us who live below persistently overcast skies, the appearance of the sun is an EVENT!

    paullamb-- It had been so long since I'd seen any optics, I started worrying that the sky had forgotten how to do it.

    NCmountainwoman-- I think I'm drawn to the ephemeral nature of these optics. They appear and don't stay very long, like a rainbow.

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  6. Like NCmountainwoman, you have me looking up more than I ever have. If there is a life list of atmospheric optics like there is in birding, you must have quite a number scratched off. Thank you for turning us on to them.

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  7. Arkansas Patti-- It's always a good thing to keep looking up. Of course, I have really bad degenerative arthritis in my neck, but I still keep at it. I hope you see something beautiful whenever you look up!

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  8. Since I was having trouble seeing the parphelic circle and because I did see a sort of waterfall of color coming off the upper tangent thingie, AND (this is the last "and," I promise!) already in Photoshop anyway, I darkened the photo to make the color pop. Oh, my! I'll email it to you.
    Paullamb, you should have glasses that get dark when outside, or be wearing sun glasses in order to see the optics.

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  9. CCorax-- I love your photoshopped immage. There is so much color and light. It's fantastic. Thank you!

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  10. There is something magical about arcs and halos in the sky. I'm sure you remember when I posted about the magnificent display I saw a few years ago when I was working in Huntsville, Al. I was struck dumb, but other people just looked up and said, "Huh," and walked on. I had to keep looking to reassure myself that I was really seeing it.

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  11. Mark-- I absolutely remember that post about the display in Huntsville. That's the sky I want to see, but really I'll settle for this vague hint at what's possible.

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