The Fichtelberg halo display from December 18th, 2017

Over the past years, the Fichtelberg – Keilberg/Klínovec twin peak region in the German / Czech ore mountains has proven to be an unexpectedly active place for diamond dust halos. As shown in a recent study by Claudia Hinz et al., this high halo activity may have already been present there for decades or even longer, resulting in local myths but sadly few scientific reports in the halo literature up to several years ago.

Another exceptional display was observed on the top of the Fichtelberg (1215 m) on December 18th, 2017, by Gerd Franze, the head of the local meteorological station. He took about 400 photographs from about 12.20 to 13.20 CET (at sun elevations from 16.0° to 14.3°). During the course of the display, the temperature increased from –3.6 °C to its peak value of –1.9 °C at 13:10, followed by a decline down to –5.0 °C over the subsequent hour. Wind was noticed only at very low speeds of about 2-4 m/s coming from between southern and southwestern directions. Fog from the bohemian basin was drifting over the mountain top the whole day. No snow guns were running, as there already was enough natural snow for skiing.


a) view towards the sun, b) view towards the anthelion, c) and d) corresponding simulations using the parameters below


Simulation parameters for HaloPoint 2.0

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A re-visited 13° halo observation from 2013, and some thoughts about the responsible crystal faces

Circular halos of 12°-13° in radius are named “exotic” because they do not fit in the (nowadays) traditional sequence of well-documented halo radii from pyramidal ice crystals (9°, 18°, 20°, 22°, 23°, 24°, 35°, 46°). The first known photographs of such a halo were obtained at the South Pole, December 11th-12th, 1998, by Walter Tape, Jarmo Moilanen and Robert Greenler. Up to now, there are only few more (Michael Theusner, Bremerhaven, October 28th, 2012; Nicolas Lefaudeux, Paris, May 04th, 2014).

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Segments of a circular halo from Moilanen crystals observed Nov 27th, 2015, on Mt. Klínovec (CZ)

During last year’s meeting of the German halo observers, we decided to drive on top of Mt. Klínovec (Keilberg) after dinner on Nov 27th, 2015. We used the car headlights as light sources for glittering diamond dust displays from ice crystals within the first few meters above the ground, while facing temperatures in the range of –5 °C to –6 °C at wind speeds of 5 – 6 bft. Simultaneously, there appeared a non-glittering, but slowly changing moon halo display in crystals higher up, including a “traditional” Moilanen arc:

2015_11_27_2003_30s_imgp3912_usm(20:03 CET, unsharp masked, for the original image see here)

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