Tuesday, May 13, 2008

solar halo

It was a typically warm, blue sky, sunny Key West afternoon when I headed out for lunch at 12:30 on Tuesday, April 29. A few blocks from my house I passed a guy standing in the middle of the street pointing his picture taking cell phone up at the sky and saying, "that's the weirdest thing I've ever seen!!"
When I looked up I saw what a lot of folks were seeing. The sun seemingly surrounded by a rainbow. Frantic not to miss the photo-op, I was off my bike with camera in hand taking pictures like Jimmy Olsen at a Superman sighting.
I'd never seen anything like this phenomenon before so naturally, being the inquisitive type, three questions came to mind. The first called to my spiritual nature, "what kind of Divine Mind could imagine such a thing?" The next challenged my artistic sensibilities, "Symmetry, color, contrast, depth and motion! What are the elements at play?" The third question screamed at the political junkie in me, "What's the government up to now?"

The next day I did a little homework and learned that my "Solar Halo" was a "Gloriole" or Icebow and although they're pretty common in colder climates, lie Minnesota, they are very rare over warmer south Florida. The phenomenon is cause by ice crystals behaving like faceted diamonds refracting and reflecting the sunlight. Armed with that new-found, phenomenal information I thought, "hmmm. . ." Ice crystals in the troposphere, 85 degrees on the ground where I was flat on my back taking these pictures. . . What were the odds?
I chalked it up as another in my long list of "magical Key West moments".

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