Tag Archives: halo

Spectrum at the top of the Sky

The colored wisp of cloud is too high in the sky to be a rainbow or a circumhorizon arc, and the spectrum is too ordered to be an iridescent cloud. I looked up ice halos that might produce this effect near vertical just before sunset. It turns out a circumzenithal arc is a perfect match: a rainbow arc near the zenith, brightest when the sun is very low. I’d never seen one before – it’s always cool to spot a new kind of sun halo.

Spotted November 12 at the Irvine Spectrum shopping center. It was around 90°F during the day at ground level, but of course it can be a lot colder in the upper atmosphere.

Saturation increased to show the colors more clearly.

Bright Lines at Sunset

Sunset Sundog
The bright line above the sun is just a contrail, high enough to catch the light without being tinted orange. The one off to the right is a sundog, ice crystals reflecting the sunlight. When I saw it I thought it was too far away to be an ordinary sundog, and might be part of a less common halo, but once I looked at how far away it appeared on camera (it’s all about the angle) I realized it was in the right place.

Eclipse on the Hill

Clouds and timing squashed the “supermoon” and “blood moon” effects here, but it was still the most unusual lunar eclipse I’ve experienced.

Usually I’ll stay up late or get up early and go outside to watch the eclipse by myself. Last year I took my then-three-year-old son out to watch an eclipse around midnight.

Tonight’s eclipse got underway before local moonrise, and I wanted to see it as soon as possible. So J. (now four and a half) and I went out to an intersection in a residential neighborhood near the top of a hill with a clear view of the eastern horizon. We arrived at sunset, and two other people were looking eastward: a woman with a camera and full tripod, and a man with binoculars. The four of us all set up on a triangular traffic island on the northern side of the intersection.

Flat layers of clouds streaked the sky, and we worried that there might not be much to see at all, but it was only a few minutes before a slightly-off crescent moon rose due east of us, right in line with the street. Continue reading