Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Moon Halos and Coronas

I was up ungodly early this morning, as I often am. The moon, high in the sky when I left the house, was radiantly bright in its full form at 4:30 a.m. Usually, nothing of interest happens on my early morning excursions, but as I returned home, I noticed that instead of just one bright light in the sky, there were three. A ring of dim light that was now circling the moon was brightest at the horizon, creating the opposite of what is known as "sun dogs." Basically, when you see either of these atmospheric anomalies, its because it is damn cold. So cold, that ice crystals have formed in the air and are reflecting the moonlight (or sunlight).

Cold or not, I'm glad I got to see this and better yet, that I was able to snap some pictures of it. I need a new and better digital camera so I can get even better pictures than these!

Here you can see the "dogs" faintly with standard photography with a +2 exposure compensation (the most I could give it on my crappy camera).

Here you can see them better with the +2 and "Tungsten" lighting, whatever that means. It gives it the bluish color and I think its pretty!

Diagonal regular photograph to try and get the full picture.

Tungsten light setting.

Another phenomenon that accompanies such ice crystals are moon coronas. That's when the ice crystals make the outline of the moon appear fuzzy.

Finally, here is a picture of a moon pillar. This is when the ice crystals make it look like there is a beam of light emanating outward from the top and bottom of the moon and in some cases, from the sides.

This exercise in photography has made me really, really want to get a better digital camera and even a different place to put these photos, because the small space here doesn't do them justice.

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