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Friday, November 20, 2009

A glorious dawn: Dark Sun Setting

This requires some explanation.

What you are seeing are rays of sunlight - sunbeams, crepuscular rays (well, in this case, anticrepuscular rays) - whatever you choose to call them - as they appeared at sunrise.

The picture was taken facing north-by-northwest. Away from the rising sun.

As I drove home from work this morning I noticed the first light of dawn breaking to my left. It was pretty. There was some vague pink glow above the position of the sun, too diffuse to be a sun pillar, though it may have consolidated into one later. But I had a long commute ahead of me, and I had to focus on the road, the traffic, and not falling asleep along the way.

Many grapes, two apples, and two cans of soda later I took the exit for Nanticoke. This puts me on Route 29, a road that runs north-by-northwest. As I merged onto the road at about 6:40 I noticed pink streamers in the sky above me. Then I noticed purplish-blue rays between these pink streamers, converging on a point somewhere near the horizon.

I have seen this sort of thing before, but only rarely, as it is in fact a rare event. Atmospheric conditions have to be just right: just enough moisture in the air to light it up, just enough clouds in the right places at the right times.

I tried to pull out my phone to get a picture on the fly, but each time I tried to raise it the emergency brake light came on. I realized that one of the cords must have been wrapped around the brake. The only way I could get the picture safely was to pull over. Which I did.

And now I'm sharing it with you.

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