What a perfect, perfect morning. Above freezing, with clear skies but for some high, thin clouds, gibbous waning moon shining bright along with Jupiter, Regulus, Spica, and Antares. The breeze was light, I had Bobbie for company, and color in the skies about fifteen minutes before sunrise.
The conversation ranged from Bobbie and Shane’s kids to a discussion of how far the sun migrates, north to south and back, during the course of the year, how that and the number of hours of daylight vary from this latitude to others. The latter was a coincidental and yet incredibly appropriate topic for this morning; while we’re still over two-thirds of a month away from the equinox, today there are nevertheless exactly twelve hours of daylight, from first light to last. (Not really sure what designates ‘first light’ other than being a half-hour before sunrise – I should probably look it up one of these days.)
We talked about birdsong and tried to identify the voices we heard on the Bluff this morning. And – added joy – we were joined by a mother and son and their aging Boxer shortly after sunrise. It was while we were chatting with the newcomers, after I had already folded up the tripod and put the camera away, that I saw the flare along the horizon.
Do you know what a sun dog is?
Basically, it’s a reflection of the sun on hexagonal ice crystals in high, cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds – those crystals can also refract as ‘diamond dust,’ in what seem to be cloudless skies, creating sun dogs in dangerously cold weather. Ofttimes you’ll get a ring around the sun as well, called a 22-degree halo. They need specific weather conditions, so you don’t get to see them often – and I’ve never seen them when the weather has been as warm as it was this morning (which might account for the fact they were fainter than the usual bright mini-sun).
But there they were, one to the right and one to the left of the sun, shining through the clouds as an abbreviated rainbow.
(Of course I pulled out the camera. How could I not?)
If ever you find yourself in a similar position, however you set up your aperture and shutter speed, underexpose the shot just a bit – the arc wasn’t showing to the naked eye this morning, but it did come through in the photograph.