Pardon my obsession with ice. It’s one of the ways I’ve come to accept this coldest of cold winters. Sparkling halos, sun dogs and ice pillars ornamenting our favorite luminaria – the sun and moon – make it hard to stay indoors.
Many of these spectacular prismatic light displays have come to the U.S. and Canada by way of bitter cold polar air bundled with face-freezing winds. One word of advice. If you run out to shoot pictures, don’t do it in your slippers like I did this morning. Wear warm boots. It’s easy to shoot photos of astronomical events in daylight with any kind of camera. Just point, compose and shoot.
Although we often can’t see them, the air is laced with microscopic, six-sided plate and column-shaped ice crystals that swirl about and refract the light into wonderful arcs and glows.
Light refracting through column crystals is responsible for halos; refraction through horizontally-floating plate crystals fires up those brilliant sun dogs on either side of the halo.
When not refracting light, plate-shaped crystals hovering with their flat sides parallel to the ground can also reflect the light of sun and moon to create tall columns called ice pillars.
Keep an eye out for these sights this week as we get a taste of what its like to live in the Arctic.