Moving Ripples in a sundog

On March 26, 2017, I could observe this phenomenon for the second time. The first time I observed it in Munich about 20 years ago, when within a few minutes two boundles of “moving ripples” crossed a left-hand sundog. At that time I did not know what I was seeing. I learned it thereafter, also the name of the phenomenon, that it has been observed several times until then and that it may be related to acustic waves. Later, the video of the “extermination” of a sundog by a rocket launch became well known. But I did not see this phenomen again till March 26, 2017.

It is just a “must” for me to photograph with my pocket camera every halo I see mostly only to get the time mark of its beginning and/or end for the record. On that day I was several times on my balcony to check for halos. The sky had only contrail-cirrus (now officially termed Ci-homomutatus), but no halos. But once I discovered a faint sundog it may have been the only halo-active contrail-cirrus group of that day. I observed the sundog coming and going with the respective cirrus couds resp. the standing sundog against the moving clouds. The sundog was faint the whole time and all but remarcable. But then I surprisingly realized that there were some odd dark strokes crossing part of the sundog diagonally. Remembering the moving ripples, I immediately zoomed in. I could record this phenomenon in some pictures. It did last only about 30 seconds, but visually the dark stripes were much more evident than the photographs suggest.

The exceptionality of this observation was that the otherwise “moving” ripples were in fact “standing”: They moved with the cloud through the sundog. This can be seen very nicely on the photographs: the ripples seem to be a fixed structure of the cloud. But they were only visible in the area of the sundog. Outside this area the ripple pattern did not show up: the dark stripes were not there! Clearly recognizable is also the fact that each ripple began weak and increased its intensity towards a maximum in the centre of the ripple area, and to vanish at the other border of the ripple area.

Remarcable was also the fact that the ripples showed up only in a part of the cloud resp. the sundog area. For me it remains a mystery why (only) a small part of the cloud was “trapped” in these “acustic waves”…

Author: Christoph Gerber, Heidelberg (BW), Germany

Link to the topic: Collection of all known observations

Halos in pyramidal ice crystals in Ohio

On June 17th, 2017 Michael Ellestad have recorded in Ohio, USA a nice pyramidal crystal halo complex. began in the morning and ended at midday and near evening the halos returned. In all he observed 9, 18, 23, 24deg and faint 35deg halos with upper and lower 9deg tangent plate arcs, 18deg lateral plate arcs, 23deg upper plate arc, upper and lower 24deg plate arcs and maybe the very rare pyramidal helic arc.

The cause was the warm front of a small low pressure area over Lake Michigan. In such small depressions crystals often have only a short lifetime, but have optimal optical properties during this time. Since these small-scale low-pressure areas occur very frequently in the 5 Great Lakes of North America, this could be the reason why pyramidal crystals and haloes occur several times a year, more frequently than in most other parts of the world. But also the jetstream, which runs mstly over Ohio, could have a positive influence on the crystals, as was investigated by Rainer Schmidt in this article.


Oblique sun pillar at the Mt. Zugspitze

On November, 23rd, 2016, I observed in Altocumulus virga a sun pillar from Mt. Zugspitze which exhibited a certain amount of inclination with respect to the otherwise common vertical direction. At first it appeared rather diffuse, but later on the distinct tilt became clearly visible.

That morning was relatively warm with temperatures around –3°C on the 2963 meter high summit, and a squally foehny wind gusted with peaks up to 80 km/h. Warm air was sucked from the Mediterranean sea by a severe southern air current. I suspect that this wind led to the inclination of the sun pillar by systematically tilting the ice crystal axes into a preferential direction.

There are only a few similar observations that can be found in the literature. On January 1st, 1969, K. Lenggenhager documented a tilted and split lower sun pillar in diamond dust on the Mt. Säntis (2502m). He explained the phenomenon by air currents which were forced to ascend a ridge, and the crystal axes being turned by various amounts on different levels of altitude (see graphic from [1]).

Similar conditions might have prevailed in my observation. The air masses of the Mediterranean sea were forced to ascend the Alps, and therefore they might have tipped the crystal axes increasingly with rising altitude.

Sun pillar in original and with unsharp mask

Another oblique sun pillar was described by Edgar W. Wooland after an observation in Boulder, Colorado [2] on January 10th, 1918, and I myself could also already observe oblique and displaced halos [3]. Unfortunately, there seem to be no further documented cases.

Any appropriate notes on the subject are highly welcome.

[1] K. Lenggenhager: “Seitlich verschobene, umschriebene Halostücke, schräg ovaler Halo und schräge Lichtsäulen”, Archiv für Meteorologie, Geophysik und Bioklimatologie, June 1977, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 275–282
[2] Edgar W. Woolard: “The Boulder Halo Of January 10, 1918”
[3] Claudia Hinz: “Double Halos”

Author: Claudia Hinz

Diamond dust halos in Jena, Germany

On January 22nd 2017 I had the opportunity to witness a halo phenomenon in my home town for the first time.

The observation took place in Jena-Maua Germany (50°51’59.4″N 11°36’02.0″E) from 8:45-10:45 CET within about one kilometer. The maximum activity was observed between 10:15 and 10:45 CET.

We had a high-pressure weather situation with more and more lifting and dispelling fog (starting with 50m AGL) in the ‘Saale’-valley. Measured temperatures were about -10 to -6 degrees.

After recognizing the lower sun pillar besides the left Subparhelia in front of the fog boundary (seen from 300m height) I drove closer to the fog and found myself standing inside diamond dust (height 150m).

Between 9:45 and 10:45 the following types of halos have been witnessed: 22° halo, left and right parhelia, upper and lower tangent arcs, upper and lower sun pillar, Circumzenithal Arc, parhelic circle, Anthelion, left and right 120° parhelia, Supralateral arc, Parry arc, Subsun, left and right subparhelia, Tricker’s anthelic arc, Tapes arcs, Heliac arc and subhelic arc.

Uncertainties exist concerning the following observations: Lowitz arcs and Moilanen arc.

To sum up the best possibility of seeing this phenomenon was inside or near Jena-Maua – a small district of the city Jena which has some industry chimneys (compare the last photographs with the smoke trail). It seems legit to suppose that industrial fine particules conduced sublimation/condensation nucleus for the diamond dust development.

Author: Marco Rank, Jena, Thuringia, Germany

Trickers and Wegeners Arcs in Jordan

Observer: Michael Heiß, Greifswald – Germany
Website of the phenomena:

The following observation was made along the motorway leading from Wadi Rum to Akaba in Jordan on December 4, 2016. At a position of 29.641553North and 35.196915 East, halo activity reached its maximum between 9:30 and 9:45 a.m. EET(East European Time). The temperature was at 14°C. After it had been clear, cloudiness now increased (Cirrus clouds).

Some fragments of the 22°-halo and both sundogs had already been visible in scattered cirrus clouds the evening before and through the morning hours. The cirrus clouds increased during the morning, becoming scattered over the whole sky by 9:30 EET. During a stop by the roadside, the whole scale of haloes could be observed. The sun was surrounded by a bright 22°-halo, both sundogs, upper tangent arc and a complete and colourful Parry arc. A faint circumzenithal arc was also visible. While the cirrus clouds spread more and more over the sky, some fragments of the parhelic circle became visible, merging to form a complete parhelic circle which was so bright that it got a brownish-red upper rim. The two characteristic bulges in the areas of the 120°degree-sundogs were also clearly visible. The highlight of the phenomenon, however, was Tricker´s anthelic arc which appeared for about 5 minutes as an accentuated “V” turned upside down opposite the sun beneath the parhelic circle. At the point where the “V” tapered, the anthelion could also be detected.

The cirrus clouds rapidly thickened, which caused most haloes to fade away. Only the 22°-halo persisted for several hours before disappearing in the afternoon.
Wegeners antihelic arc appears if the USM method is used.

All pictures are taken with a full-frame camera (Canon 6D) at a focal length of 24 millimetres.

Reflection subsun in California

On January 25, 2017 I observed a reflection subsun in Auburn, California. This was my second observation of this phenomenon, the first of which was on February 1, 2008 and is already documented here.

The conditions between the two observations are nearly identical: The observing location, time of day, and time of year. Also of note is that both were seen following a multi-day period of heavy rains, which supplied the water that reflected the sun upward toward the Altocumulus cloud. The water had filled the Yolo Bypass, which is an area that is designed to flood during periods of heavy precipitation and lies along the line of sight between Auburn and the setting sun.

Author: Steve Sumner

Reflection subsun in Southern Finland

6th January, 2017, I observed quite a clear reflection subsun in the southern Finland.

It was morning,  local time around 11am. I looked outside and saw a nice sun pillar. And clouds, that were about to block the Sun. So I went to take photos of the pillar before it was too late.

I got the pictures and stayed for a while and saw the clouds running over the Sun. Surprisingly, the pillar didnt disappear. I waited for a little while longer but the halo was stubborn. Then I realized, the source was not the Sun, directly, but its reflection! The sea is a couple of miles away and wasnt yet frozen (map).

More pictures can be found here.

Author: Matti Helin, near Turku, Southwest Finland

On some more aspects of a display observed in Rovaniemi on the night of 9/10 November, 2016

In the previous post of this display I discussed two photos taken towards the end of the hunt, just before twilight. Now it is time to look at the photos taken earlier, from midnight onwards at another location. Please mouse over or click the photos to remove the milky veil that the systems adds as default to them.

Of the several stacks that were photographed, I made simulations of two that are shown below. Unlike the morning photos, now only one stricly oriented Parry population was needed to the explain the display’s halos from c-axis horizontally oriented crystals. So here we have a pure case of uppervex Hastings and nothing reminescent of Wegener.


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Thin plates in rotating Parry orientation as an explanation for the display on the night of 8/9 November, 2016, in Rovaniemi

8-9nov-taulukko-valmisIn an earlier post I told simulation attempts were not succesful for this display. Well, I really did not put that much effort into it. Now I have given it a fresh look and managed to get some succees.

The problem was the subhelic arc and anthelic arcs that could not be get rid of. In new simulations made with HaloPoint the subhelic arc issue is pretty much resolved and the anthelic arcs also play it low key.

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On some aspects of a display observed in Rovaniemi on the night of 9/10 November, 2016

This was a good no-hassle night of diamond dust hunt. The swarm was stationary and I didn’t have to pack up every 20 minutes to follow its whims. During the 6 hours of observing it was necessary to move only once. Also, both two locations were quite good concerning the light pollution. Especially the second place, where I wrapped it up in the morning ours, had a really dark segment which I used to light up the anthelic region.

As for the halos, the start of the night at around midnight was not so inspiring. As I arrived to the snow deposit area near the river, a sneak peek in beam revealed a run-of-the-mill plate display and I though it will just get worse because the temperatures were in the bad range, around -15 C. So I decided I might as well give some minutes for the half-moon display that had a smudge of Moilanen arc. In photographs it was transformed into a nice V-shape.

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