Umbrella shadows and reflection

Late afternoon sun reflecting off a decorated window into the shadow of an umbrella.

We went out for frozen yogurt yesterday to celebrate finally putting all the Christmas decorations away, only to find that the shop still had their Halloween decorations up. I didn’t feel quite so bad after that!

While driving around lunchtime, I saw an airplane pass overhead, its contrail casting a shadow on the thin cloud layer below. I had my camera handy, and was stopped at an intersection, so I snapped a couple of shots. As often seems to happen, the first, haphazard one was the best.

The diagonal line extending down from the sun is, I believe, a sun pillar-like effect in the trails left by the windshield wipers. Also: Unless I’m mistaken, you can just barely see the edge of a halo in the feathery clouds at bottom center. It’s the slight reddening.

A few hours earlier, I saw this:

I glanced out the window while changing lanes on the freeway this morning & noticed the bottom edge of this halo. By the time I had a chance to stop the car and really look, the lower arc seemed to have disappeared, but the left side was sharply visible – as was a sundog. I rolled down the window and snapped a couple of photos while waiting for the light to change. Unfortunately, I couldn’t position anything to block the sun, so the exposure isn’t all that great.

By the time I reached my destination and parked, it had all faded except for a slightly bright patch in the clouds to the left.

Yesterday morning while driving to work, I looked up from the road and saw two parallel lines in the sky: One white, one dark blue. They were, of course, a contrail and its shadow on a thin cloud layer below. Because it was a thin layer, I started looking (when I had the chance) for fragments of halos.

When I finally stopped the car, I took a picture of the contrail and its shadow (now nearly aligned with the sun), looked up and saw a faint edge of a halo. I moved a bit to the left, putting a tree in front of the sun, and there it was: a clear 22-degree circular halo centered on the sun..

With any luck I’ll finally post about last week’s trip to Las Vegas soon, but meanwhile, here’s something interesting that we spotted a couple of times on the drive back: The shadow of a contrail against the sky.

Here’s what it looked like, as the camera saw it. Actually, it was much more visible at the start. It faded considerably in the time it took to get the camera out and snap the photo.

Contrail and shadow, unprocessed

And here it is with the contrast enhanced. You can see a dark line extending across the sky from the end of the trail down to the lower left. The sun was at the upper right, almost but not quite in line with the trail at that point.

Contrail and shadow, with contrast enhanced

Atmospheric Optics has a huge collection of cloud shadows, rays, rainbows, ice halos, and more, including a diagram of how contrail shadows work.

About a month ago I posted about noticing the Belt of Venus—the red band that circles the entire horizon just after sunset—and the Earth’s shadow on the sky. I snapped this picture on the drive home this evening. This is looking east, away from the setting sun.

Looking east toward Saddleback at sunset.

If you look at the right edge of the picture, behind the silhouette of the tree, you can just see the red band fading into the dark gray of the Earth’s shadow.

(And to think, I almost brought the good camera with me this morning… Update: It turns out that I did bring it, and just didn’t realize it was there. Oh, well.)