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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Not two but three halos!

The last two days have been great for atmospheric optical phenomena. Today's bright halo ws actually three. Just as I mentioned yesterday, most people only noticed the bright 22 degree halo, but as the previous image shows, a rare 9 degree halo was visible for those who knew enough to look for it. This image shows the 22 degree halo along with a the much fainter, but also rare 46 degree halo. 46 degree halos only appear about 2% of the time you can see the 22 degree halo. They are formed by the same hexagonal ice crystals that form the 22s but the light exits them at a different angle. Canon 20D - 1/1000th, 20mm @ f/10, ISO 100

Solar Halos

Today Southeast Arizona was treated to a rather common phenomena, a 22 degree halo encircling the Sun. Halos like this one happen often when there is a thin layer of cirrus or stratus clouds that contain hexogonal ice crystals. Today, the halo was exceedingly bright and lasted much of the day. In addition to the hexagonal crystals, there were also crystals of other shapes. If you look closely, you can see an inner halo much closer to the Sun. This is called a 9 degree halo and is cause by crystals that are pyramidal shaped. 9 degree halos are rare. Canon 20D - 1/200th, 20mm @ f/22, ISO 100, two merged images.

"The Nature of Light and Colour in the Open Air"

... is a wonderful book. I highly recommend it to anyone who spends time outdoors and lives with their eyes open. (Most people don't) There are hundreds of optical phenomena that can been seen by anyone who takes the time to look, and with the help of this classic book, knows what to look for. I've been lucky enough to see almost every one listed in the book.

It was just starting to rain here with the late afternoon sun shining brightly. With the rains approaching from the east, I knew there would be a great rainbow and I wasn't disappointed. As you can see here, there are two bows visible. Sometimes there is a third one visible outside the second one, but I couldn't make it out this time.

The lower, brighter one is the one most people see. The second fainter one is usually seen when the raindrops are just the right size and the sunlight is bright. As you can see, due to the different path the light takes in the raindrops that produce the outer bow, the sequence of the colors in this bow is reversed.

If you look closely at the larger image, you will see additional violet arcs along the inside of the brighter bow. Due to the very bright sunlight, these were very apparent to the eye, but not as obvious in this image. Also note that inside the brighter bow, the sky is brighter while the sky between the bows is darker. These are because more light is scattered back to the observer inside the main bow, but the light is scattered away from the observer between the bows. Canon 20D - 1/80th, 20mm @ f/18, ISO 100

Friday, June 23, 2006

Monsoons Soon

The average humidity is growing daily and afternoon rains are finally starting to fall. This afternoon there was heavy showers south and east of the Santa Ritas. After the clouds rained out, the clouds slowly broke up. Canon 20D - 1/80th, 20mm @ f/6.3, ISO 100

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The 60" Awaits the Night

I recived a call from one of the fire spotters on Mt. Lemmon asking if he could bring his nephew around to see the telescope. I positioned the telescope in a dramatic pose and left the lights inside the dome on, so as they approached, it would look its most impressive. Before they arrived, I took a few shots in the fading twilight. Canon 20D - 5 seconds, 20mm @ f/22, ISO 400

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Riding the Ridge Lift

The first pilot spent several minutes climbing close to the launch point. Canon 20D - 1/640th, 300mm @ f/16, ISO 200

Monday, June 19, 2006

Climbing out

Here's the first hang glider off of Mt. Lemmon Sunday afternoon starting to climb away from the slope. Below him is the town of Catalina. Canon 20D - 1/640th, 70mm @ f/14, ISO 200

Hang Gliding off of Mt. Lemmon

We had a pair of hang glider enthusiasts take off from the steep slope directly under the 60" dome Sunday afternoon. Here's the second launch just at the moment of flight. It was pretty impressive to watch them take off and climb in the thermals and upslope lift. They had to be well over 13,000 feet MSL when we finally lost sight of them! Canon 20D, 1/60th, 70mm @ f/22, ISO 100

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Not quite sure what this big black thing that is pointing at her and making noises, Sydney eyes the camera as her picture is taken. Canon 20D - 1/25th, 168mm @ f/10, ISO 1600

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Another view of this month's full moon rise taken several minutes earlier than the previous shot. Mount Wrightson is the peak on the right. Canon 20D - 1/50th, 70mm @ f/22, ISO 200, Red Channel

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Santa Rita Full Moonrise

While it looks full the true instant of full moon is still hours away. When the full moon rises in June, it is in the far Southeast. I knew this would be a spectacular sight and for months I've been anticipating this evening, hoping that it would be clear. I wasn't disappointed. The conditions were severe clear with only a very slight wind. It couldn't have been better. Canon 20D - 1/400th, 119mm @ f/4.5, ISO 200

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Introducing Sydney

I just adopted Sydney from a local shelter. She's a little over a year old. The cruel scum that owned her when she was a kitten just threw her out of the house and moved away. Kind neighbors realized what had happened and took her to the shelter so she wouldn't have to fend for herself and possible be eaten by coyotes.

Still a little jittery at times, but within several hours of her arrival, she has settled right in. I expected her to be more shy and reserved at first, but she is already relaxed, made herself at home and has become quite affectionate. I don't have many images of her yet, so I picked this comical one to start with.Canon 20D - 1/100th, 149mm @ f/4.5, ISO 1600, on camera flash -2 stops.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Taking Shelter from the Rain

This is the first Western Diamondback that I got to see close up. There were Monsoonal storms around the area and I went out to check on a birdfeeder that had fallen. I spotted this guy coiled up next to my porch, waiting out the storm. The birds took a while to notice him, but once they did they got very noisy! Canon 20D - 1/200th, 300mm @ f/10, ISO 1600. He was more pale than is seen here. I increased the contrast and saturation a bit to bring out the pattern and the scales.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bone Dry

I'm not sure why type of animal these jaw bones come from. There are a number of bones from this animal nearby, but the total skeleton is incomplete.
Canon 20D - 1/400th, 70mm @ f/18, ISO 400. The green channel was selected in Photoshop to create the highest contrast between bone and dirt. The image was then changed to grayscale before slightly stretching the levels and apply a bit unsharp masking. When that was complete the image was reduced in size and returned to RGB.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Same Cactus, Different Zoom

Another shot of the same Saguaro, with bees and other insections buzzing about. Canon 20D - 1/400th, 70mm @ f/20, ISO 400