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Sun

Sun Haloes

Yesterday in Belgium, sky watchers were stunned when they witnessed a heavenly apparition in broad daylight. "It was one of the brightest and most complex displays of sun haloes I have seen in 25 years of observing," reports Philippe Mollet, who took this picture:

Sun Halo
© Philippe Mollet
Image Taken: May 6, 2011
Location: Meise/Grimbergen, Belgium
"The phenomenon lasted for more than 30 minutes, long enough to phone and e-mail many friends and colleagues," he adds. "[It looks like] this was observed over a large part of our (little) country."

Sun haloes are caused by ice crystals in high clouds. "This wonderfully bright display proves that you do not need to be in polar regions to see them," notes atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Temperatures in 3 to 6 mile high cirrus are more than cold enough to make the needed hexagonal prism shaped ice crystals. There are two sets of halos, those nearest the sun are made by rays that pass between crystal faces inclined at 60 degrees. The outer halos with widely separated colors are from faces inclined at 90 degrees. See the labeled image for halo names. The huge colourful halo is a supralateral arc. This halo is often very hard to distinguish from the much less common 46 degree circular halo but there are several clues to look for to tell them apart."

Sun

Not rare anymore! India: Beholding Sun god with halo around

Image
© AP
This photo of a sun halo viewed from behind a street lamp was actually taken in Kolkata on July 5, 2010.
On Friday morning, residents of the city and its suburbs witnessed a natural phenomenon around 11.15 am. A beautiful, bright halo was seen around the sun, forming a perfect circular ring. The rare sighting triggered intense excitement as word on the celestial wonder spread. The ring lasted about an hour, after which it gradually faded away.

According to MP Birla Planetarium director (research & academic) Debiprosad Duari, the angular distance between the sun and the ring was almost 22'. "This celestial feature, that is sometimes known as 22' halo of the sun, occurs due to refraction of light against ice-crystals present in the thin wisp-like strands of clouds in the sky," he said.

Comment: "Rare" sun halos appear to be on increase, lately. And there is a "dustier" reason for it than shiny ice crystals. Take a look at the following articles:

Have You Seen a Sun Halo in Your Area? North Carolina, US: Solar halo continues this afternoon...
Are Ice Crystals Really to Blame? US: Halo Appears Around The Sun Over The Central Savannah River Area
Build-up of cosmic material in the atmosphere? Indonesia: Mysterious halo around the sun sets people wondering
Spectacular sundogs and ice halo seen from Stockholm
Ghana: Halo Appears Around Sun
Swaziland: Panic Over Sun's Strange Appearance
Mysterious Sun Haloes

Our hypothesis is, that the sun is being refracted by the changed atmosphere. That is, a combination of possible comet dust loading and changes in the layers of the atmosphere.


Sun

Have You Seen a Sun Halo in Your Area? North Carolina, US: Solar halo continues this afternoon...

That solar halo that was hanging overhead when I went to lunch today is still there at 4:40 PM and the prospects for it being with us until around sunset are pretty good.

The high cirrus clouds, made up largely of ice crystals are streaming in from the west this afternoon. The ice in the clouds creates the ring around the sun as sunlight is bent when it passes through the crystals.

sun halo
© Johnny Horne

Comment: "Rare" sun halos appear to be on increase, lately. And there is a "dustier" reason for it than shiny ice crystals. Take a look at the following articles:

Are Ice Crystals Really to Blame? US: Halo Appears Around The Sun Over The Central Savannah River Area
Build-up of cosmic material in the atmosphere? Indonesia: Mysterious halo around the sun sets people wondering
Not rare anymore! India: Beholding Sun god with halo around
Spectacular sundogs and ice halo seen from Stockholm
Ghana: Halo Appears Around Sun
Swaziland: Panic Over Sun's Strange Appearance
Mysterious Sun Haloes

Our hypothesis is, that the sun is being refracted by the changed atmosphere. That is, a combination of possible comet dust loading and changes in the layers of the atmosphere.


Sun

Build-up of cosmic material in the atmosphere? Indonesia: Mysterious halo around the sun sets people wondering

The sky made heads turn upwards yesterday, on the eve of the polling day when a halo formed an outer ring of the sun, radiating the rainbow colours.

The 30-minute display, starting from 11.30am sparked a discussion among the people why it had to appear as the polling day was approaching.

sun halo
© Unknown

Comment: "Rare" sun halos appear to be on increase, lately. And there is a "dustier" reason for it than shiny ice crystals. Take a look at the following articles:

Have You Seen a Sun Halo in Your Area? North Carolina, US: Solar halo continues this afternoon...
Are Ice Crystals Really to Blame? US: Halo Appears Around The Sun Over The Central Savannah River Area
Not rare anymore! India: Beholding Sun god with halo around
Spectacular sundogs and ice halo seen from Stockholm
Ghana: Halo Appears Around Sun
Swaziland: Panic Over Sun's Strange Appearance
Mysterious Sun Haloes

Our hypothesis is, that the sun is being refracted by the changed atmosphere. That is, a combination of possible comet dust loading and changes in the layers of the atmosphere.


Sun

Ghana: Halo Appears Around Sun


Ghanaians were held spellbound when the halo phenomenon emerged in the skies late Wednesday morning. Hundreds of people stepped out of their offices to take pictures of the celestial wonders. Onlookers believed it was signs of the last days. "Jesus is coming today," fascinated Victoria Mintah told AfricaNews.

However, meteorologists said the phenomenon known as halo phenomenon is natural around the world.

Magic Wand

The Shiny Harbingers of Change, More Frequent and Brighter: Mysterious Noctilucent Clouds As Seen from Space

Mysterious "night shining" or noctilucent clouds are beautiful to behold, and are usually seen during the summertime, appearing at sunset. They are thin, wavy ice clouds that form at very high altitudes and reflect sunlight long after the Sun has dropped below the horizon. Scientists don't know exactly why they form, but continue to observe them - both from Earth and from space. These images were taken by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's Aura satellite.

Image
© NAS
Polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs) observed by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the Aura satellite. Maps by Robert Simmon
Also called polar mesospheric clouds, they are puzzling scientists with their recent dramatic changes. They used to be considered rare, but now the clouds are growing brighter, are seen more frequently, are visible at lower and lower latitudes than ever before, and - as these satellite image reveal - they are now even appearing during the day.

Comment: The article mentions Matthew DeLand's measurements of a long-term trend towards more and brighter noctilucent clouds linking to rising greenhouse gases. And we would like to clarify, just in case there is anyone left who's not been paying attention, that it has nothing to do with Global Warming.

What we suspect has really been happening, based on our research thus far, is that the upper atmosphere is cooling because it is being loaded with comet dust, which shows up in the form of noctilucent clouds and other upper atmospheric formations. The comet dust is electrically charged which is causing the earth's rotation to slow marginally. The slowing of the rotation is reducing the magnetic field, opening earth to more dangerous cosmic radiation and stimulating more volcanism. The volcanism under the sea is heating the sea water which is heating the lower atmosphere and loading it with moisture. The moisture hits the cooler upper atmosphere and contributes to a deadly mix that inevitably leads to an Ice Age, preceded for a short period by a rapid increase of greenhouse gases and "hot pockets" in the lower atmosphere, heavy rains, hail, snow, and floods.

Expect this trend to continue but don't believe in "man-made Global Warming". Whatever warming there has been, it's really a prelude to the way Ice Ages begin. Let's hope that there aren't any catastrophically large chunks in that stream of comet dust cycling through our solar system.


Bizarro Earth

US: After The Storm

US skies are clearing in the aftermath of this week's monster winter storm. But "clear" is not the same as "empty." Sky watchers are seeing an unusual number of sundogs. Doug Koehler photographed these yesterday in Davenport, Iowa:

Sundog_1
© Doug Koehler
Brilliant rainbow-like sun pillars in the early morning, sub-zero fog in Davenport, Iowa, just off the Mississippi river. They lasted about 20 minutes before fading away as the sun rose. Sadly, the camera doesn't do justice to how colorful they were. Taken with a GE A1251 in auto exposure mode. Image taken: Feb. 3 2011
"These brilliant sundogs appeared in the early morning sub-zero fog just off the Mississippi river," says Koehler. "They lasted about 20 minutes before fading away. The camera doesn't do justice to how colorful they were."

Sundogs and their cousins, sun pillars, are caused by ice crystals in the air. And if there's one thing North Americans have a lot of, it's icy air. Indeed, the dog and pillar show is likely to continue for at least six more weeks.

Bizarro Earth

A Day of Night-Shining Clouds

Mesospheric Clouds
© Robert Simmon
Polar mesospheric clouds acquired June 20, 2007.

Scientists have a good reason to track noctilucent or polar mesospheric clouds: they are a pretty good gauge of even the tiniest changes in the atmosphere. These "night-shining clouds," as they are sometimes called, are thin, wavy ice clouds that form at very high altitudes and reflect sunlight long after the Sun has dropped below the horizon.

To look for changes in the atmosphere, scientist Matthew DeLand (of Science Systems and Applications Inc. and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) has been monitoring polar mesospheric clouds with instruments that were actually designed to study ozone, including the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's Aura satellite. OMI provides more detailed and frequent observations than previous instruments, giving DeLand a way to refine his previous measurements of a long-term trend towards more and brighter noctilucent clouds linked to rising greenhouse gases.

These images show OMI measurements of polar mesospheric clouds on July 10, 2007. The clouds, detectable because they are the only things that reflect light in this part of the atmosphere, are shown in white and pink. The Aura satellite travels in a polar orbit, circling from south to north as the Earth turns beneath it. As a result, the satellite gets several opportunities to image the poles every day. This series of images shows the clouds over six consecutive orbits between 7:16 and 15:52 Universal Time. Throughout the day, a wide area of polar mesospheric clouds developed over northern Greenland and Canada, peaking around 10:30 UTC (the third orbit).

Question

Night-Shining Clouds are Getting Brighter

Mesopheric Clouds
© Jan Erik Paulsen
Increase of Polar Mesospheric Clouds, 1979–2010.
Mesopheric Clouds_1
© Robert Simmon
Adapted from Latitude-dependent long-term variations in polar mesospheric clouds from SBUV version 3 PMC data. - January 1, 1979 - December 31, 2010
After the Sun sets on a summer evening and the sky fades to black, you may be lucky enough to see thin, wavy clouds illuminating the night, such as these seen over Billund, Denmark, on July 15, 2010. Noctilucent or polar mesospheric clouds, form at very high altitudes - between 80 and 85 kilometers (50 - 53 miles) - which positions them to reflect light long after the Sun has dropped below the horizon. These "night-shining" clouds are rare - rare enough that Matthew DeLand, who has been studying them for 11 years, has only seen them once in person. But the chances of seeing these elusive clouds are increasing.

DeLand, an atmospheric scientist with Science Systems and Applications Inc. and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, has found that polar mesospheric clouds are forming more frequently and becoming brighter. He has been observing the clouds in data from Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet instruments that have been flown on satellites since 1978. The graph shows how the brightness of the clouds has changed in the Northern Hemisphere. For reasons no one fully understands, the brightness wiggles up and down in step with solar activity, with fewer clouds forming when the Sun is most active. The biggest variability is in the far north. Underlying the changes caused by the Sun, however, is a trend toward brighter clouds. The upward trend in brightness, says DeLand, reveals subtle changes in the atmosphere that may be linked to greenhouse gases.

Polar mesospheric clouds are extremely sensitive to changes in atmospheric water vapor and temperature. The clouds form only when temperatures drop below -130 degrees Celsius (-200 Fahrenheit), when the scant water freezes into ice clouds. This happens most often in far northern and southern latitudes (above 50 degrees) in the summer when, counter-intuitively, the mesosphere is coldest.

Meteor

Noctilucent clouds filmed from Space Station - why are these 'nightshiners' visible at ever lower altitudes?

Noctilucent clouds were captured on the following video by the International Space Station's Science Officer, Ed Lu, in 2003. Now, the rare high-altitude clouds are showing up at lower and lower latitudes and scientists aren't sure why.


Comment: You may want to read these, then wake up and smell the ozone:

A Puzzling Collapse of Earth's Cooling Upper Atmosphere

Shields down! Earth's magnetic field may drop in a flash

Earth's Magnetic Field Is Fading