Thursday, January 04, 2007


I told you I was an angel. See my halo?

I decided to try to photograph Heiligenshein or holy light.

You can see it a bit better sometimes when you hold the camera away from your head. (Yes I may have put on a pound or two, but I am wearing my heavy coat, so no snarky comments!)

Here is a much stronger example.

The whole atmospheric optics site makes me wonder if most of my teachers had to put in extra effort to make science seem so dull, when really, it isn't.

Even the optics vocabulary is entrancing:
Specter of the Brocken. (Or just plain Brocken specter.)
Sun dogs.
Shadow hiding.

And my new favorite sentence:
All shadows converge towards the antisolar point where the glory also shines.


I first read about this a month or so ago, and remembered that it was supposed to work on either dew or hoarfrost. I set out in the heavy hoarfrosty morning to try to see it, but no luck. The sun rises behind a mountain here, so it's already up in the sky a good bit before we get our first strong rays.

I was kind of bummed about it not working. But an hour or so later, on the way back from feeding the chickens, I glanced across the yard and saw my heiligenschein on a particularly wet patch of clover. Cool!

It made me wonder how often I'd seen this but not really seen it. You know?

If you try it, let me know how it goes!


Mark said...

I once saw a very good example of the glory while on an airline flight. I also heard of a display of parhelia with a complete halo and possibly some of the other halos right here in northern Alabama. I, unfortunately, was under my little mobile home insulating pipes when it happened, but my parents told me it was magnificent.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I'll have to look out for this. There are too many boring science teachers it is true, but there are some who make science come alive too...

happy and blue 2 said...

I wonder if that will work in snow..

Laurie said...

I'm going to try that too. Very cool!

Cathy said...

Great pictures! I love the magic that light and water create around us. Thanks for the links to the great website.
I think I may have experienced this when standing on a dock with the sun behind me. There were glory rays in the water around my shadow as I moved around to test the effect. This could go to ones head :0)

Linda1and5 said...

It is very funny and "poetique" and I like it !

Rachel said...

Very interesting!! I'll have to look for this too!

arcolaura said...

Heiligenschein is sometimes very striking on the stubble of a grain crop. Looking straight down the light, you see the lit sides of all the little straws. As soon as you look a bit to one side or the other, you start to see the shadowed sides. Sometimes it makes a brilliant pillar stretching way off across the fields above your shadow's head.

I first noticed it about a decade ago while doing a lot of field work through the fall. The poor guy from California who was working with me had to endure my observations about my own shadow having a halo, while his didn't! He thought it was a reflection off the helmet (which he refused to wear), but taking off the helmet made no difference. He couldn't see my halo. Maybe if he had looked for it above his own shadow, he would have seen it.

I wrote a whole song about it. Might have to post it.

vicki said...

That is very cool! This was fun- learned something new. Now I have to wait for the right conditions to be angelic...

Reminds me that my little sister gave very funny gifts this year- including a toast/grill iron that burns an image of the Virgin Mary in your toast. It included directions on how to market your toast on eBay.

KFarmer said...

You come up with the most interesting things to read and look at- I'm gonna try it- :)

Floridacracker said...

I heard you were queenly ... now it seems you are angelic also??
We're not worthy, we're not worthy ...

Deb said...

(still cracking up about vicki's comment on the Virgin Mary toaster...:) )

I'd try it, but I'd be afraid of the size of my own shadow lately...

cyndy said...

Great post! Thanks for the link to the atmospheric optics site-

I had seen what I was calling 'upside down' rainbows, now I know what to really call them!

I will keep watch for the glory now....

vicki said...

And now you've gone to heaven? Hello? :-)

Rurality said...

Mark, I've never noticed a lot of these things, but maybe it's because I wasn't looking for them... I wonder how far-ranging parhelia are? I mean, would two observers hundreads of miles apart still see the same thing? I suppose I need to look that up. :) I've seen lots of 22 degree moon halos, but never one around the sun.

CGP, yes I was lucky enough to have one of those for a few classes!

H&B2, I will expect a report.

Laurie, let me know if you are successful. I've been wanting to try again but it's been cloudy every morning since.

Cathy, it definitely does. :)

Thanks Linda!

Rachel, make sure to have you camera handy, and let me know if it works for you.

Arcolaura, cool! Now I'm going to be looking for this phenomenon everywhere...

Vicki, oh someone has scooped me again. I thought of that invention but never did anything about it! They should have interchangable plates for different deities.

KF, let me know if you have any luck!

FC, of course! Well, either an angel or a devil. Definitely one of those.

Deb that was surely the most frightening thing. But really, I DID have on a very big coat. Really. :)

Cyndy, be careful, it's easy to waste an entire afternoon on that site!

Vicki - it was just temporary. :)