Monday, May 22, 2017

More Halos and Arcs

I walked down the street on Sunday afternoon to check out a garage sale. I was talking to the two women there, one was the neighbor and the other was her friend who had brought stuff to sell. We were chatting about grandkids, toys, earrings, and barrettes. That's when I looked up at the sky. I saw something I had never seen before. It looked like a 22 degree halo, except it wasn't around the sun; it was ghostly white; and it was in the northern sky. I looked at them and said, "I see an atmospheric optic that I have to go photograph. Bye." And I literally took off running home. I try to imagine what it must have looked like for my neighbors to see me, the daily walker, out there trotting to the house. Crazy I tell ya, absolutely crazy. But here's what I saw.
I know this pale arc doesn't look like much. But I've never seen anything like it. Yes, there was a 22 degree halo in the sky, but it was exactly where it was supposed to be, wrapped around the sun with all its lovely colors in the southern sky. It was opposite the pale display.
Oh, and there was a circumhorizon arc below the colorful 22 degree halo as well. You see why I was running home to get the camera. I have no idea what that pale arc was. I am planning on sending the image to Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics. I'm sure it's some Parhelion something or other, but I truly don't know. I know you know, I love a good atmospheric mystery.
The circumhorizon arc stretched across the southern sky. It was awesome. Definitely the kind of thing you run home for, I think! That, and mysteries.

And then it was all gone.

17 comments:

  1. Great mystery. So glad you ran home in time to photograph the pale arc. Beautiful photos.

    Synchronicity. Sunday afternoon, a friend and I were at West Beach, an hour south of here. When we had arrived at around 10 a.m., there had been a light fog. After lunch, I looked up at the clearing sky and saw a 22 degree halo. I told her about you and your photos of atmospheric optics. Before I went to bed last night, I emailed her a link to your post from May 17!

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    1. am-- I can't tell you how much I love that synchronicity. Thank you for sharing that story with me. YES!

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  2. You know Robin, I think the skies (and heavens) have chosen you to show off their mysteries and wonders. And you then have to share them.
    Thank you.

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    1. Sabine-- I often think of the line from Leonard Cohen's song about Suzanne: "She shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers..." It's possible in every sky. For some reason I know where to look!

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  3. The Sky always invites you to her parties.

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    1. CCorax-- It's the only party invitation I never turn down!

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  4. Robin, you have been very, very lucky to get to see those atmospheric displays, and very, very good to get shots that good. The amazing display I saw a few years ago had a circumhorizon arc, but I don't recall any color to it.

    I don't recall seeing or reading anything about the halo opposite the sun, but I am not surprised to see that one can form. The halo around the sun is forward-scattered light, while the one opposite the sun's location is backscattered. The geometry is probably pretty similar between the two, but the backscattered light is dimmer than the forward-scattered light. That would account for the paler halo that doesn't show much if any color. I don't know what that halo is called.

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    1. Mark-- Interesting that the circumhorizon you saw did not have color. Makes me wonder if it could have been something else. The pale arc here was absolutely baffling. The sun was high, but it was definitely in the more south part of the sky, and I had my back to it when I photographed the pale one. It was odd, it almost seemed like the sun was reflected in north and the arc/halo was cast from the reflection. I'm sure that's not possible, right? But that is what it looked like.

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  5. How great it was still there when you got your camera. Usually when I have to run--walk fast--to get my camera, what I wanted to record is gone when I get there. Let us know what Les says.

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    1. Patti-- When I was "running" home, I was thinking how disappointed I would be if I missed that pale arc. I didn't even notice the other halo and arc until I got home. I was so happy! I hope I hear from Les, and I will keep you posted.

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  6. yes! keep us posted on Les' opinion. Lucky you, you are still able to run! Glad the optics waited for your camera. The sky must know you by now.

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    1. Tara-- I'm hoping to hear from Les. He always knows the answers to these things. The sky and I have do have a very friendly relationship!

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  7. Oh, Robin, you have had such wonderful luck lately spotting arcs! How wonderful.
    I fully understand you stopping talking and dashing home to photograph the arcs. I certainly would have done the same.
    Have a wonderful week!
    Robin
    ,

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    1. Robin-- I'll pretty much stop whatever I'm doing if there are atmospheric optics in the sky. They are so ephemeral. Always good to hear from you!

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  8. Amazing! I've never seen one of these before.
    Also, very interesting...

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    1. Pat-- Once you know where and when to look, the possibilities are often there!

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