Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What the Passenger Saw....

We travel frequently, mostly around the continental US.  Since I'm an "observer", I enjoy looking through the window, as you can see some interesting things at 30,000+ feet elevation.  Note also that at 74" tall, sometimes the best seat for looking through the window is the center seat!

Anyway, on our trip here I saw something I'd
never noticed before.  In fact, I wasn't even sure what it was called until I went looking for it on Optics Picture of the Day!  It was a "Subsun", a near-specular reflection of the sun off oriented ice crystals in the clouds.  It had a very similar appearance to how the sun would look reflecting off a body of water, except we were somewhere over New Mexico or Texas, and it was mostly cloudy.  All told, the subsun was visible for only about 5 minutes, but I got a dozen shots of it in that time, all seemingly associated with misty-topped mid-level clouds.  I sent my description and a couple shots to Les Cowley who runs OPOD, and overnight he provided a name, description and links to a few better examples than mine.  And while he indicates they are quite common, I'd never seen them from above anyway...  I've seen sun pillars that are formed from similar crystal alignments, but these were a first for me.  Keep looking up, or down, or whatever direction is available to you!

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