Friday, January 01, 2010

May The Force Be With You

Force of habit had me out of bed bright and early as per usual. With the calender reading Jan 1st, and not a soul stirring in the house, or on the streets as I soon discovered, I picked up a coffee at 7-11 and pointed my truck in a easterly direction. I wanted to be back fairly early, as my daughter Jennifer was leaving for Vancouver in the morning, and we had planned on taking in a movie later in the afternoon. Of course, for the moment there was no big hurry since she had rolled in at sometime after 4am earlier this morning. Much later and we would have met at the front door. I would have to inquire how she and her band had made out with their New Year's eve gig. They had played a New Year's eve function at a club in downtown Calgary and this had been their last time playing together for some time, being that they were all flying out in the morning. It felt strange to be going for a drive on a Friday morning, as I felt that I should actually be going to work. I left home with the temperature reading -22 Celsius when I pulled my truck off of the drive-way. Now, just east of Calgary and the early morning dawn looking mighty fine, the temperature on my truck thermometer was indicating a balmy - 26 Celsius. Over the last several days leading in to the new year, we had received several centimeters of snow and this snow appeared stunning in the early morning light. I started to pay attention just before the sun rose over the horizon that there was fairly un-common phenomena about to take place, and I felt the excitement building within me. There was the hint of sun dogs about to explode over the horizon with the sunrise, and I knew that conditions were such that they would be spectacular. A sun dog or sundog also called a mock sun, is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun. Sundogs may appear as a colored patch of light to the left or right of the sun, 22° (or more) distant and at the same distance above the horizon as the sun, and in ice halos. They are best seen and are most conspicuous when the sun is low on the horizon, and how can the sun be any lower than at sunrise. Sundogs are formed by plate shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus clouds, or during very cold weather as on this morning, by ice crystals called diamond dust drifting in the air at low level. Sundogs are red colored at the side nearest the sun. Farther out the colors grade through oranges to blue. However, the colors overlap considerably and so are muted, never pure or saturated. The colors of the sundog finally merge into the white of the parhelic circle. With all the conditions in place on this very cold morning, I was in heaven as I rushed here and there with my truck looking for just the right location, and then grabbing my camera and tripod, or at times just flopping down in the snow, I fired off frame after frame as the sun and its friends performed their magic for me. The funny part was that with most everyone in bed after out celebrating all night, or at least for most of it, I seemed to be the only one who was experiencing this happening, and that was alright with me. Happy New Year everyone.

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