Sunday, January 31, 2010

Was the Lunar Halo Legend Correct?

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Two days after the Lunar Halo in the previous post, we had about one inch of snow.  According to the legend, count the stars inside the halo and a storm comes that many days after.  I counted 3 stars.  Well, I'll give it one day, but what about the people who saw the halo and didn't get any snow at all.  Anyone living north of I-70 in the Kansas City area didn't get any snow and I know for a fact lots of people up there saw the halo.  What happens when you see a halo like the one you see above.  It was taken February 23, 2007.  I count roughly 27 or so stars inside the halo.  I checked the weather for 27 days after that date and found these days with precipitation:
Feb 24 .57"
Feb 25 .03"
Feb 28 1.73"
Feb 29 .09"
Mar 09 .16"
Mar 11 .01"
Mar 12 .01"
Mar 20 .31"
Mar 21 .01"

There was moisture on nine days and the most precipitation occurred one, two, three and twenty six days after the halo.

I don't think the number of stars method works, but I also don't think a storm is a sure thing soon after a halo either.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ring Around The Moon

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Keeping with the theme of halos in the sky, this time a beautiful halo appeared around the Moon tonight.  Just like the halos around the Sun, it is caused by ice crystals in the high altitude cirrus clouds.  These type of clouds normally precede a warm front by one or two days.  Warm fronts means storms.  A common belief is that the number of stars within a Moon halo indicate the number of days before bad weather.  I see two or three stars in the image.  I don't think the "number of stars legend" is true, but warm fronts and cold fronts usually do precede storms.  Right now here in the Kansas City area we have a warm front to the west of us creating the cirrus clouds, but according to the weather forecasts, storms will slip right by us to the south.  I guess in a few days we'll see who is right, the weather forecasters or the urban legend.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More Atmospheric Phenomenon

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Good friend Scott Kranz sent me this wonderful picture of a very nice Halo, Sundog and Tangent Arc.  The halo is usually a complete circle around the Sun.  The sundog is connected to the halo on the right side (just above the roof) and the tangent arc is at the top of the halo.  The tangent arc is "gull wing" shaped and everything is created by the play of sunlight on ice crystals.  Along with the atmospheric phenomenon, Scott captured some really nice high cirrus clouds shaped into arcs by the wind.  He took the picture a couple of weeks ago while vacationing with his family at Disney World in Florida.  To see a computer simulation of the various halos and arcs go here: then browse the fantastic images throughout this website.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Diamond Dust Sundogs

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Coming home from grocery shopping last evening I spotted sundogs on each side of the setting sun.  Also called "mock suns" the scientific name is parahelia.  Sundogs appear as colored patches of light 22 degrees on each side of the sun and are formed by ice crystals in very cold high cirrus clouds or from "diamond dust" crystals drifting in the air at low levels.  This was probably diamond dust because the wind was blowing the fine particles of snow into the air.  The temperature was about 7 degrees Farenheit.

Also notice the dark beam shooting out of the left side of sun.  This is another atomospheric phenomenon called a crepuscualr ray, which is just a shadow of the cloud near the sun's position.

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About a month ago, my nephew, Ambrose Solis, captured this bright sundog with his camera phone in Colorado.  This one was definitely caused by ice crystals in the high cirrus clouds.

Sometimes sundogs are accompanied by various arcs and halos, also caused by ice crystals.  Be on the look out for sky phenomon such as these.  They even occur in the Summer time and can easily be photographed with the simplest camera.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Winter Landscapes

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Happy New Year everyone!  I never would have thought 2010 would have come this quick, but here it is.  I got up early this morning, unusual for me, and thought I'd put up a few of my Winter images.  Even though there is plenty of snow outside, these are from the past because I have been really lazy and haven't picked up my camera for quite a while.  I'll have to change that.

The top image is from my backyard deck where we enjoy the company of many birds.  This was taken with my first digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix, back in 2004.  I still have this wonderful camera.  It brought me into the world of instant picture gratification.

The second picture is also with the Coolpix and in my backyard back in 2004.  The limbs flow across the picture like it wants to fly to a warmer climate.

With my then new Canon 300, the Kansas City area had a huge ice storm.  This wonderful winter wonderland was in Loose Park, a place I love to visit with my camera.  I had the honor  of it being published in the Kansas City Star newspaper.