ice halos and other optics

Spotlight halos from Mustavaara snowguns 17/18 November 2010

The moon halo display vanished as it got eventually overcast. It was still low stratus with occasional fog on the ground, but apparently the moisture just became too much for the snow guns’ ice dust to nucleate a hole. Diamond dust nevertheless continued under cloudy skies and I turned on the spotlight. It was rather good, plate crystals still in charge and with negative elevation lamp (about 11° below horizon) there appeared several “super”-halos (equal to “sub”-halos when light is above the horizon). All were visible to the naked eye, the superparhelic circle at the superanthelic region was bright. At its best the superparhelic circle extended all the way to the superparhelia but I did not get that stage photographed. At the same time was also normal parhelic circle visible.  I though of seeing a ghost of super-120° parhelion, but decided it was just white snow on the far hill. In the photos, however, super-120° parhelia are visible in a similar ghostly manner, so probably that was what I saw.

Getting these photos was mostly waiting. Mainly it was water fog, but then, for maximum few minutes at a time good crystal swarms swept by. In one exposure both water fog and diamond dust stage was captured so that there is also fogbow visible. In reality halos and fogbow were not much visible at the same time. Water fog and diamond dust don’t just occur simultaneously. Eventually it got worse and I headed back to Joensuu. But on the way there was diamond dust at the quarry, 7 km as the crow flies from Mustavaara. So I took some photos there as well, climbing up a gravel mountain, leaving the lamp at the bottom and thus obtaining about 35° negative light source elevation.

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