Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Debussy
Reading: Anne McAllister: One-night mistress, convenient wife (enjoyed this one – especially the Brazilian grandmother. Anne writes wonderfully rounded heroes – very realistic characterisation)
Every so often, my nerdy streak appears here. Last week, it was prompted by seeing the crepuscular rays (scroll down to see the pic if you missed it – it really was that good).
This week, it’s the sundog I spied yesterday morning, at about 8.45. I’m back to taking my camera around with me, so – with a little help from my sunglasses as a temporary lens filter (and thank you, thank you, O traffic lights at a spectacularly busy junction, for turning red so I had time to take the pic) – here it is.
The official name of a sundog is a parhelion (Greek: beside the sun, which describes it perfectly). It’s formed by refraction of the sun’s rays through hexagonal plate ice crystals formed in cirrus clouds, and you’ll often see two of them (one either side of the sun), at the same distance above the horizon as the sun. Sometimes you’ll see it as a proper ice halo round the sun (and when it’s combined with a sun pillar, it’s spectacular – so far, I’ve only seen pictures, but I live in hope).
In 1461, just before the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, apparently the parhelia were so bright that it looked as if there were three suns. Edward of York convinced his troops it was a sign – and they went on to victory. From then on, he adopted the ‘Sunne in Splendour’ as his emblem (and the novel of that name by Sharon Penman is utterly fantastic).
This is actually work-related, as there’s a scene in Temporary Boss, Permanent Mistress where Jake and Lydia talk about clouds and ice haloes. (Yup. Kate’s Northern Lights obsession does indeed extend to other atmospheric phenomena…)
Today's question: what's your favourite atmospheric phenomenon - and, if you've seen it in real life, do tell about the experience.
Righty... back to the Ardèche and the heat of the midday sun...