This is the kind of contrail view that starts rumors about imaginary missile launches.
Yes, that happened. A few years ago a bunch of people in the LA area saw an airplane contrail at a weird angle and there was this big news story about a mysterious missile launch off the coast of California. No one claimed responsibility for or knowledge of the launch of course, which made it seem even more mysterious. Even after people matched flight paths and time stamps and viewing angles, the myth persisted, at least in internet comment threads.
Remember about a year ago when people were all freaked out about a supposed missile launch off the coast of Los Angeles, even though there was no sign of it on radar and no one claimed responsibility? Remember how it turned out to just be an airplane contrail seen head-on so that it looked vertical? (Actually, I’d bet you probably didn’t hear that part, did you?)
I was reminded of that when I saw this one today. Off the coast of Los Angeles again…pretty close to the airport.
I got off the freeway to catch the train out to the office last Tuesday morning, and saw this incredibly bright sundog off to the east. I couldn’t get a parking space, so I had to drive the rest of the way, but I did get a couple of photos.
The sun is off-frame to the right.
I’m not sure why the bright patch was so elongated and well-defined. My guess is that a smaller cloud in the foreground happened to be in exactly the right spot to reflect the sunlight.
I had to shorten the exposure in order to actually get some detail on here, like the bit of color spectrum in the middle.
While driving around lunchtime, I saw an airplane pass overhead, its contrail casting a shadow on the thin cloud layer below. I had my camera handy, and was stopped at an intersection, so I snapped a couple of shots. As often seems to happen, the first, haphazard one was the best.
The diagonal line extending down from the sun is, I believe, a sun pillar-like effect in the trails left by the windshield wipers. Also: Unless I’m mistaken, you can just barely see the edge of a halo in the feathery clouds at bottom center. It’s the slight reddening.
A few hours earlier, I saw this:
I glanced out the window while changing lanes on the freeway this morning & noticed the bottom edge of this halo. By the time I had a chance to stop the car and really look, the lower arc seemed to have disappeared, but the left side was sharply visible – as was a sundog. I rolled down the window and snapped a couple of photos while waiting for the light to change. Unfortunately, I couldn’t position anything to block the sun, so the exposure isn’t all that great.
By the time I reached my destination and parked, it had all faded except for a slightly bright patch in the clouds to the left.