Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Atmospheric Optics

I missed it...everyone in Salt Lake is talking about the "rainbow cloud" observed this afternoon. This photo was shared by the National Weather Service:
This is known as a circumhorizontal arc, a type of halo. According to the NWS these form "when the sun is high in the sky with cirrus clouds around, forming a halo. Becuase of the configure of cirrus clouds today, only part of the arc was visible."

Atmospheric optics is a unique area of study, but I don't particularly know of any practical uses for this knowledge. However, these are sights worth appreciation. People are most familiar with the rainbow caused by sunlight refracted by raindrops. Other optical phenomenon include sun dogs, ice halos, corona, glory, iridescent, and several others. You can play around this site for explanations and cool pictures of these occurances:

Last May I observed this beautiful halo out in the middle of Dugway. I'm quite proud of this picture:

If you look for them, you will notice these pretty optics more frequently, especially if you are wearing polarized sunglasses.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying another lightning storm (this time from the comfort of my dorm room). It was a quick storm, but heard a few loud *CRACKS.*
In other news, we're going to Mars. NASA released this statement today:
“There is a consensus that our horizon goal should be a human mission to Mars and the stepping stone and pathways thrust of the NRC report complements NASA’s ongoing approach.  The key elements of that approach include the facilitation of commercial access to low-Earth orbit to sustain fundamental human health research and technology demonstrations aboard the International Space Station (ISS); the development and evolution of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft to enable human exploration missions in cis-lunar and deep space, including to an asteroid; and the development of game-changing technologies for tomorrow’s missions, all leading the way on a path to Mars.
“NASA has made significant progress on many key elements that will be needed to reach Mars, and we continue on this path in collaboration with industry and other nations.  We intend to thoroughly review the report and all of its recommendations.”

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