Spotlight displays are great in that almost every time you photograph them, you realize you understand halos less and less. This time the puzzle is: Why Wegener in the image above is so strong in comparison to other reflection halos? No subhelic arc is visible and neither there seems to be diffuse arc – I think the spikes at the subanthelic point are lamp artefacts. Of course I can’t not say that for sure, but around the subanthelic point even weak stuff shows up easily to the eye, so had there been diffuse arcs, I should have noticed it. If we accept this, then, in addition to the Wegener, the only suggestion of column reflection halos is what looks like a short patch of Tricker arc cutting across the sub-Kern arc (see the simulation below for comparison).
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).
A simple diamond dust display that I photographed on the 6th of this month in Rovaniemi, shows above the Moilanen arc another, weaker V-shape. As I uploaded the photo on Taivaanvahti, I was not conscious of the effect, it caught the sharp eye of Panu Lahtinen and Reima Eresmaa who commented on it. Then some photo processing made it stand out more clearly. The version above was worked by Nicolas Lefaudeux. It is a stack of 13 images taken during 125 seconds.
Showcasing the last winter’s spotlight displays is still under way, but fresh produce is already coming in. Here is the new crop that I harvested on the evening of 5th November in Rovaniemi. In the image above the lamp is around -6 degrees below the horizon and both parhelic and subparhelic circle are visible. Slight intensity enhancements in them on the side of the sky opposite to the lamp are suggestive of Liljequist parhelia. Included are also Sub-Kern and sub-120° parhelion. I did not spot sub-Kern this time, but the latter was quite discernible when running alongside the beam. As usual, it was a pale pillar of light in which no individual crystals were detectable – very different from the intense subparhelic circle patch towards the subanthelic point, which is always made of pure glitter.
On the fifth of November the diamond dust season opened in earnest, when Esa Palmi photographed a major display at the Kittilä airport. While the sun side is always the attention gatherer, the main attraction of the display is really on the opposite part of the sky, where a strong subanthelic arc dominates the scene.
In an earlier post we showed a photo of a weird downward curving patch of Wegener/Hastings. Here is another case that occurred 9 days later on December 2, 2015. This time we also got a nice comparison to normal “Wegstings” by superposing photos taken from the same camera position.
After having been hunting diamond dust halos since darkfall, at 1 am we withdrew along with disappearing crystals back to aparment to sleep. But this did not mean calling it quits. The forecast was for the conditions getting better, so every one hour each of us woke up in their turn to check the situation.
This night conditions were overcast and we were watching halos in spotlight beam. But there was a moment when clouds all turned into ice crystals, allowing moon shine bright and make a passable display. We switched off the spotlight and managed to take some photos before it got cloudy again. Camera lenses were frosted, which caused some blurred areas and bright dots in the images.
Jarmo Moilanen, Marko Mikkilä, Marko Riikonen