Sunday, April 22, 2007

Algal optics

The season for algal optics has started, the first display was seen here in Finland already in the beginning of April. No photos was taken, but a gallery from my work on this stuff in last summer is here.

The algal films that display optical phenomena are clearly not as rare as have been thought. In the Baltic sea rocky islands about every 10th freshwater pool came with algal optics last summer. In Bulgaria, the species Chromophyton rosanoffii, which is responsible for the phenomena in the photo, has been described as common.

When it has not been raining for some days, go look for any freshwater ponds, puddles and pools. If the water surface is covered by a thin film, chances are that some sort of optical phenomena is visible in the sun light.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Flag corona

Light diffraction doesn't only originate from aerosols like little water droplets or pollen floating freely in the atmosphere, but also from so-called diffraction gratings. These consist of a large number of equally spaced holes or slits, from which the light rays interfere and form an interference pattern. In this example, which I photographed in the beginning of April, the thick woven fabric of the European flag serves as a diffraction grating and shows a beautiful corona.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Green and Blue Flash

On December 26th I climbed the 1000m high Plettenberg to observe and photograph the setting sun with 1m focal length to look for the green flash. The transparent air and an inversion layer were promising, however a few clouds with their top at approximately the same altitude were disturbing. The upper limb of the sun turned out to be quite turbulent showing green rims and flashes, but also some blueish apparitions.
Why a blue flash?
A green rim of the setting or rising sun occurs due to differential refraction in the atmosphere. If conditions are extremely clear, also the blue light has a chance to get through, and there might be even a blueish rim. With a temperature inversion layer in the atmosphere, upper segments of the solar image might get separated from the rest of the solar disc. In the final moments of these elusive segments they do appear green and sometimes even blue (green or blue flash). However, it is not clear to me why in my observations both happens. Most last moments are green, whereas the third frame shows a blue color and at the same time other turbulent segments with a green color. Should not every segment turn from green to blue, at least in the very last visible moment?
Maybe something more than just clear air plays a role for a blue flash visibility!?
It is the first time I see green and blue flashes simultaneously in one image. I strongly encourage other observers to record video data to show these effects in higher time resolution.

See large image with blue flash
Image sequence with description

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Colours in the airplane window

While flying from Izmir to Ankara in Turkey on monday the 2nd of April 2007 at 10.15am Selen Ediger wanted to take an aerial shot of the mountains below with my canon ef 10-22mm lens and Hoya multi coated polarizing filter. With naked eye the colors were not visible but when she looked through the camera she saw that the land and the sky was covered with rainbow colors. The contrast and the saturation are adjusted a bit.

What's the origin of this colours?