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Fri, 23 Feb 2018
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Strange Skies

Snowflake

Circumzenithal arc spotted within wispy cirrus clouds in northeast Alabama

We love receiving photos of the Weather Where You Live, and this one had us taking a second look!
Circumzenithal arc over Alabama
© Sydney Baker
One viewer wrote in from Grant, saying:
WHNT,
I wanted to share this photo with you. The clouds were absolutely beautiful and after taking a few pictures, I looked up and noticed the rainbow colors within the clouds, which added to how stunning they were already. You'll notice the rainbow colors slightly left of center in the picture. This picture was taken right around 3pm today on top of Grant.
The rainbow colors within the clouds are known as a circumzenithal arc.

Circumzenithal arcs are rare sight. It looks like an upside down rainbow, or is often described as a smile in the sky. These arcs form when the sun is lower on the horizon, when the light can be refracted just the right way to produce this colorful effect.

Snowflake

Sundogs seen in southern Mississippi sky

Sundogs over Southern Mississippi
© WLOX
If you looked up in Monday afternoon's sky, you may have noticed a strange weather phenomenon. The sun appeared to have a halo and two bright spots on either side of it: this is called a sundog.

Sundogs occur when light interacts with ice crystals in the sky.

Thin and wispy cirrus clouds high in the sky are made up of ice crystals. And as the sun's light shines down through those ice crystals, the rays of light are bounced off of each ice crystal, forming unusual arcs of light on either side of the sun.


Sun

Impressive sun halo spotted over Las Vegas, Nevada

Sun halo over Las Vegas
© National Weather Service - Las Vegas
An impressive sun halo appeared in the sky over Las Vegas on Monday morning thanks to the presence of a thin layer of high-altitude cirrus clouds.

Halos are rings of light that can encircle the sun or the moon, and they usually occur when cirrus clouds are covering the sky.

A mix of chemistry, physics and geometry are the main components for sun halos.

The atmosphere consists of a mix of gases, including oxygen, nitrogen and water vapor. At high altitudes in the sky, water vapor condenses and then freezes into ice crystals. As sunlight passes through those ice crystals, the geometry of the crystals causes sunlight to refract, or bend, similar to what happens when light passes through a prism.

Rainbow

Spectacular series of sun phenomena appear in the skies of northern Chile

Sun halo over Chiile
© Via Instagram/mekamiro
High altitude cirrus clouds sometimes contain a large number of hexagonal ice crystals, and if these are struck by sunlight at just the right angle, with the sun elevated at least 58 degrees, the sky suddenly looks like somebody waved a giant magnet in front of an old-school computer monitor.

But, yesterday was more than unusual in Antofagasta, Chile. A series of different sun halos lit up the sky over the whole day, baffling sky-watchers as if they've finally discovered the gateway to Oz.

At around midday, a double solar halo - circumhorizontal arc below the very common 22-degree halo - amazed onlookers for approximately half an hour.


Then around 3:30pm, another sun halo appeared before an incredible sundog or two suns phenomenon around 6:30pm. Chemtrailing? Approaching storm? or just weaponized weather art in the heart of Atacama desert? Will see that in the news in the next day. Meanwhile enjoy as if you weren't aware of the weather war going on.


Cassiopaea

New intergalactic explosion could be biggest supernova ever

Supernova Explosion
© Brian Monroe/NASA
The Earth, the Sun, Andromeda galaxy, they have all been around for as long as you can remember and as long as humanity has been around. So when a new light suddenly shows up in the distance, it's a weird occurrence. But a newly-detected explosion could be one of the weirdest - and it isn't the only one.

An international team of scientists is reporting a new kind of explosion that they can't quite explain, billions of light years away. Maybe it's a supernova. Or maybe it's a star being eaten by a black hole. Or maybe it's something entirely different.

"I'm a supernova person to start with so I got really thrilled that this could be the most energetic supernova ever," Peter Lundqvist from Stockholm University in Sweden told Gizmodo. "But I had second thoughts."

Camera

Southern Arizona treated to beautiful halo around the sun

Some very observant KVOA viewers captured atmospheric awesomeness on Sunday.
Sun halo over Tucson, AZ
© Shane Gillies
Every so often, Southern Arizona is treated to a huge ring surrounding the sun or moon. So what causes it? Let's explore the world of optics. (I promise to keep it simple.)
Optic diagram of sun haloes
© University of Illinois

Bizarro Earth

Strange sounds 'invade' the skies of Gomel, Belarus

Strange sounds in Belarus
© YouTube/Luis Andres Jaspersen
ESPAÑOL: Sonidos procedentes del cielo invaden el ambiente en Bielorusia.

ENGLISH: Sounds coming from the sky invade the environment in Belarus.


Sun

Sun halo in Colorado captures people's eye and imagination

Sun halo over Colorado
© Aspen Emmett McCarthy
A mysterious ring in the sky around Durango on Sunday afternoon had some people wondering if life from another planet had finally arrived to Earth or if the sight was long-awaited evidence of Russian meddling.

And given how unpredictable 2017 has been so far, it wouldn't have been that out of the ordinary.

"It's the Aliens!!" wrote Darrin Strickland on one of Durango's local Facebook pages.

"Russia!!!" Daniel Galloway added.

But alas, Sunday's spectacle was a rather recurrent optical phenomenon known as a sun halo.

Camera

Caught on camera rarely seen colourful displays of the Northern Lights across the UK

Sinclair & Girnigoe Castle in Caithness, Scotland
© Maciej Winiarczyk
Sinclair & Girnigoe Castle in Caithness, Scotland
Northern lights could turn UK skies a dazzling green again tonight following on from last night's display which an expert described as 'almost like being in Iceland'.

The natural phenomenon swept across parts of Scotland and northern England, while areas as far down as South Wales also caught a glimpse of last night's ethereal event.

Strong conditions, such as dark, clear skies, will remain for the next few days, and experts from AuroraWatch UK say we could be in for a dazzling show in the same places tonight.

'The bigger the disturbance, the stronger the Aurora and the more likely it is to be seen,' Dr Case, a space physicist at Lancaster University and an AuroraWatch UK team member told the Express.


Cassiopaea

Rare blue auroras seen in the Arctic Circle

blue aurora
© Daniel Drelciuc
Taken by on October 26, 2017, at Tromso, Norway
Around the Arctic Circle, people see green auroras almost every night. It's nothing to write home about. Blue auroras, on the other hand, are very unusual. That's why this photo taken on Oct. 26th by Oliver Wright in Abisko, Sweden, is so remarkable:

"It was totally blue," says Wright, a veteran aurora tour guide who has witnessed hundreds of geomagnetic storms. "I've never seen anything quite like it!" In Tromso, Norway, Daniel Drelciuc saw it, too--"a big blue mass next to the classic green aurora," he says.

In auroras, blue is a sign of nitrogen. Energetic particles striking ionized molecular nitrogen (N2+) at very high altitudes can produce a cold azure glow, most often seen during intense geomagnetic storms. On Oct. 26th, however, geomagnetic activity was not intense.

Maybe these weren't auroras, after all. Another theory is emerging for the blue apparition. On Oct. 26th, the Russian military staged a nuclear battle drill and test-launched a number of ballistic missiles from land, sea and air. At least one of them created a magnificent cloud of blue exhaust. Alexey Yakovlev photographed the display from Strezhevoy, Russia:

Comment: Perhaps the Russians did it, but perhaps we tend to blame the Russians a bit too much. They're not gods y'know!