Sun Halos: Always Look Up

palm-tree-halo

Have you ever seen a ring around the sun? Or a pair of bright spots flanking it? Or a rainbow-colored cloud? Just as sunlight reflecting and refracting inside raindrops can create a rainbow, sunlight reflecting off of ice crystals can form fascinating and beautiful halos. It doesn’t even have to be cold at ground level: if the ice crystals are high up in the atmosphere, spread in a thin layer of cirrus cloud, you can still see them… even in places known for warm weather like Los Angeles. I have a whole gallery of halo photos I’ve taken in southern California. You’ll see them more often than you expect. You just have to look up.

Orange: Sky, Flames, Balloon…

The first thing I noticed when going through my photos for the orange challenge is that I take a lot of sunset pictures! I made a point to mix it up and narrowed it down to twelve shots, then checked out how they looked together and settled on six. Then I realized I’d forgotten to upload one, and couldn’t bear to leave it out, bringing the gallery up to seven.

Ragged clouds in a blue sky, lit up yellow-orange just like a Maxfield Parrish painting…a bird of paradise flower…a cosplayer at Comic-Con dressed in a jumpsuit, wielding a Portal gun…ocean waves reflecting another sunset, made even deeper orange than usual by smoke from a wildfire….visiting the big orange balloon at Orange County’s Great Park…torches lighting the gateway to Adventureland at night…and finally a sunset shot, silhouetting the Manhattan Beach Pier…

Comet Pan-STARRS and the Moon

Moon and Comet

On Tuesday I drove up to a hillside park to get above the clouds and look for the comet. I arrived just a few minutes before sunset and found a large group of people with telescopes, binoculars and cameras lined up along the western side of the hill. The sun set, the moon came out, and the comet slowly came into view. I left just after the moon set a little over an hour later. More photos and write-up at K-Squared Ramblings.

Not a Rainbow

Feathery Not-a-Rainbow

An amazing circumhorizon arc that I saw last May. I had just crossed the street while walking to lunch when I looked up, saw it…and walked back to the office to get my camera!

It started out as just a couple of small segments, but as the clouds drifted into position it quickly grew, and at its strongest it was just long enough to fill the field of view on my camera. There were also a couple of fragments of a 22° circular halo visible at the time.

It looks like a sort of straightened-out rainbow, but it’s actually caused by ice crystals. If the right type of crystals cover the entire sky, this will actually stretch in a circle all the way around the sky, parallel to the horizon.

At times like this, I really wish I had a DSLR, but the point-and-shoot will do in a pinch.

Location: Irvine, California. May 14, 2010, 1:30pm

Maxfield Parrish Sky

Maxfield Parrish Sky

Maxfield Parrish Sky, originally uploaded by Kelson.

One night last October, I stepped out of the office building and felt like I’d stepped into a Maxfield Parrish painting. The whole sky looked like this. (Or at least the half that was visible.) It literally stopped me in my tracks.

I spent the next 15 minutes walking around the parking lot, watching the lighting on the clouds change as the sun set and taking pictures.