Torch shaped Moilanen arc


The two images above, which are versions of one stacked image, show a torch shaped Moilanen arc. This is the shape that the halo takes when light source is about 9 degrees below horizon. Below is a simulation for that elevation.  Also shown is another photo in which the places of lamp and camera were switched, giving a more familiar looking Moilanen arc with the lamp about five degrees above the horizon. The display was photographed on the night of 5/6 January in Rovaniemi.

Marko Riikonen / Nicolas Lefaudeux

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Wegener or Hastings?

DSC_0269-0303This spotlight display that was photographed in Rovaniemi on the night of 5/6 January rises the question of whether it is Wegener or Hastings arc or both together that is seen here. From the outset, as there is helic arc but no subhelic arc one could argue that it is rather the uppervex Hastings arc.


When comparing with simulations (below) it does not look that obvious anymore. The curvature and extent of the arc looks more akin to Wegener than Hastings (the side view image). And it is possible to simulate Wegener without subhelic arc by using thin plates in column orientation. Indeed, to have best agreement with the images, in all simulations thin plates were used both in Parry and column orientation.

In the image on the left the crystal h/d is 0.1 for all simulations. In the one on the right it is h/d 0.03 for rotations of 0.5 and 5 degrees, for full rotation simulation h/d 0.1 was used. Crystals are triangular, oriented in Parry orientation so that the tip is pointing up.

Well, none of these simulations come out satisfying. The light source elevation for simulations is -5 degrees.

Marko Riikonen / Nicolas Lefaudeux

– added one more image with simulation containing both Wegener and Hastings



Diamond dust halos on the night of 12/13 January – part III


Has anyone seen subparhelic circle inside subparhelia? Neither have I. Not before stacking the photos from the latter part of the 12/13 January night. In one of the stacks this missing segment is seen faintly inside subparhelia. The version of the image above, made by Nicolas Lefaudeux, was done with emphasis on getting the segment stand out as clearly as possible.

Below is a more conventional looking version of the image and simulation. The plate oriented crystals in the simulation were fully triangular. Regular hexagons do not make the missing segment, except at very high light source elevations.


What else? The arcs that in Finland these days are called the Schulthess arcs are quite well defined, especially in the last photo set of the night (below). One sees both concave and convex components extending from subparhelia to parhelia, though the latter component seems to have a gap around the horizon, not reproduced by the simulation. I have never seen in sun display photos the concave component between parhelia and horizon. It is always just the convex component that is visible.

Marko Riikonen



Diamond dust halos on the night of 12/13 January – part II


More photos from the 12/13 January night. The image above is a view opposite to the spotlight. Seen is blue circle, diffuse, Wegener and subhelic arcs. Below are two more images, the blue-minus-red image shows the “column 351/361”, which is the Kern arc equivalent of 46° supralateral arc. The lamp is about 5 degrees below the camera.

Marko Riikonen

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Diamond dust halos on the night of 12/13 January – part I


With this post starts the presentation of January 12/13 night results in Rovaniemi. All photos are in spotlight beam. The image above is a singe frame with 30s exposure. Just basic halos there. In the rest of the images emphasis is on the crystal glitter formation that makes an intensity threshold at the zenith. The raypath for this effect, which is quite common in spotligth displays, is 3-5-7 and here it is from column oriented crystals. What’s peculiar is the psychedelic colors of individual crystals, as shown by the left side image below that is a maximum stack of four frames. In the 20 frame average stack next to it the colors are washed away. The lamp is the usual 5 degrees below horizon. Below in the smaller thumbnails are two single frames which display the colored glitter even more clearly and another maximum stack of 14 frames. Individual frames are all 30s exposures.

Marko Riikonen


Lunar odd radius display in diamond dust


On four out of last five winters Tapio Koski has photographed lunar diamond dust odd radius halos in the Rovaniemi area. These one-per-winter occurrences are almost solely responsible for lunar diamond dust odd radius displays photographed in Finland during those years. This winter we wanted take part in the tradition. Yet despite numerous odd radius displays we had harvested in the beam, those by the moon – or sun for that matter – were simply not coming.

Except on the night of 20/21 January, which was the month’s last diamond dust night in Rovaniemi. During the day, when driving in the city, we paid attention to Fairbanksian amber, a beautiful yellow glow in the sun direction that can be seen in cold weather and with which we became familiar on the successful halo expedition to Fairbanks in January 1996. This gave us an omen of foreboding that a night of big odd radii diamond dust was finally on the cards for Rovaniemi. Weather forecast was with us too, as the temperature was expected to drop to -33° C – the magic number that Walt Tape has given as being in the center of the temperature range favorable for odd radii.

The display appeared as some thin water cloud that had momentarily overtaken the sky cleared away. The first halo visible was upper 23° plate arc, many others soon followed the suit. In the beam only a crappy plate dominated display was visible – the pyramid stuff was higher up.

Jarmo Moilanen / Marko Riikonen

Halos from oriented pyramids in the spotlight beam

untitled-1On the night of 20/21 January we got photographed oriented pyramid crystal halos in the spotlight beam on two occasions. The first occasion, shown above, got us completely unawares and the odd radii stuff was all gone in the next shot which would have had the exposure right. Colored and solid upper and lower 9° plate arcs were seen, but if they were still present when the camera was placed in the beam, they are nevertheless washed out by the overexposure. In the photo one still sees the 35° halo and lower 20° plate arc. The lower 9° plate arc was of the 23-6 type as the lamp was about 5 degrees below below horizon.

We drove around and switched on the lamp here and there, stubbornly trying to get a rerun, but to no avail. Diamond dust was already on the retreat, the air was drying up even though it was around -33° C. Yet we managed to get something just before it all evaporated, as shown by the image here:

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A little simulation study as was necessary to see whether it was column (left) or plate (middle and right) pyramid stuff, but that did not give definitive answer. The plate scenario simulations are identical except that in one is 22° halo and in the other 23°. The 35° and 18/20° stuff above the lamp were initially noticed visually which prompted us take the photo series for this stack.

These last photos were taken at 3:30 am. The two photos below are the first photos of the night at 6 pm. We photographed these lunar and beam displays simultaneously. No odd radii yet at this early hour.

Marko Riikonen / Jarmo Moilanen

Pyramid crystals and odd radius halos, part II


More halo and crystal photos from the 20/21 January night. While this second crystal sampling and photographing session was under way, the display in the beam was photographed constantly, but again odd radius halos are not visible in the photos, expect perhaps for a suggestion of 35° halo at one stage (not shown). Yet again the sample was littered with classical pyramids as shown by the images in the gallery.

The picture above is an appearance of odd radius halos after the crystal business was over with. It is a “blue minus red” (br) of stack with total of 9m30s exposure and contains 9°, 18° and 35° halos. Three more halo images are in the gallery, first a single frame from the stack above, then two that are versions of another stack, the br displaying full 46° halo.

Jarmo Moilanen / Marko Riikonen

Pyramid crystals and odd radius halos, part I


The night of January 20/21 in Rovaniemi was a night of odd radius halos. Here are shown mostly crystals collected during a half hour period. At the same time photos were taken continuously in the spotlight beam, below is one of those stacks. The sample contained plenty of traditional type pyramids – something we have not yet seen this winter. So it is curious that odd radius halos are not conspicuous in the beam photos and at times even completely absent. Maybe the abundant cavities in the crystals caused too much disturbance.

The stack is from a stage where the odd radius stuff was at its best, taken towards the end of the crystal collecting period. Visible are 9°, 18° and 35° halos. The temperature during the night was around -33° C.

Jarmo Moilanen / Marko Riikonen