Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Subsun" upon ice crystal

While taking the photographs of the iridescent fissures in the ice, I noticed some beautiful ice crystal structures on one of the puddles. When I looked at them more closely, I saw intensive reflections of the sun in them. Animated by the hoar-frost halo I discovered before, I got the idea to photograph the reflection of the sun as a kind of “subsun”. To get the reflection completely into the picture, it was necessary to make a macro of the ice crystal. However, the crystal turned out ot be a lot more complex than I thought.

The reflection of the sun, however, was not a homogenuous surface, but appeared to be a slightly oval shaped, speckled white spot with a broad golden and also speckled rim. It is exactly this reddish-golden rim that gives me quite a headache, reminding me a lot of the reddish coloured fringes which sometimes can be seen at other haloes like parhelic circle or 120°-sundogs. The sequence of colours and the outward manifestation is that of a common aureole. However, in this picture it looks as if the colour came out of the inside of the ice crystals. Especially take a close look at the crystals marked with arrows.

About one week later at another frozen puddle, the reflection of the sun again had a reddish rim. But here the situation is quite different. This time it is a fragment of the frozen water surface. The wind has carried dust upon the ice which with the help of the sun had smolten innumerable tiny holes into the surface which originally had been smooth. Low temperatures then had made it freeze again. All in all, these processes have caused a rather permeable surface structure to develop, so the reflection of the sun is more like a diffraction. Especially in its upper part, there is an indication of iridescence. Who knows, on day somebody might succeed in taking photographs of “ice surface coronae”!

Last but not least: Of course you can also try to take a fragment of ice off a puddle and make some experiments with it. Maybe there will be confirmations of these sightings pointing also out to the possibility of a (additional) light refraction in the red rim.

Author: Reinhard Nitze, Barsinghausen, Germany

1 comment:

TOR Hershman said...

This is an extremely interesting blog and you folk take beautiful photos.