Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Solstice Sunrise and Sunsets

Being the winter Solstice and all yesterday I thought I would take some pics of the winter solstice Sunrise, plus the fact that it was -39c and woo hoo no wind, I thought to myself maybe I could capture some crazy shaped refracted Sun shots. The Sun didn't disappoint. Sunlight is refracted due to the different densities and pressures in our lower atmosphere causing the light path to be trapped, blocking some of the sunlight from getting to our eyeballs, seems with the really cold temps this is even more so making for some interesting shapes of the Sun.

I knew from the rising Sun that I was in for some strange looking Suns, notice what looks like a solar flare popping off the top of the above image. Now when it is -39c with no wind it can be kind of deceiving, doesn't really feel cold without the wind burning into your face, in fact you don't really know how dangerous the cold is up and until just before you fall asleep and die.

After 20 minutes out in this stupid cold temperatures my camera started making some funny noises and the shutter sounded like it was going to blow up and start on fire, so I go to turn the camera off when I noticed my fingertips had no feeling, grab the camera and start running back to the warmth of the car when I noticed my toes were numb, great I'm going to fall asleep and die next. Finally made it back to the car alive and well, next time I'm going to stay in the car regardless of how it feels cold wise.

Eight hours later I was out at it again, this time Sunsets. I call the above image my Christmas ornament Sunset due to the fact it looks like a Christmas tree ornament, Merry Christmas from me to you, print it off and hang it on your Christmas tree. It had warmed up to -26c and I was able to stay in the car while taking the pics but my finger tips were still burning from the morning before.

Got some funky looking Sunsets plus I got an image of the rare Greenflash! Only lasted for a few seconds, hence the term flash.

Greenflashes appear just before Sunrises and just after Sunsets. The high frequency waves of the greens/blues curve more then the lower frequency reds allowing them, the green light to remain around to be viewed by us, the reds are obstructed by the curvature of the Earth.

The Ursid meteor shower is on right now, actually peaks tonight, and you won't have the Full Moon to contend with, but there is only 15 an hour or so but I'll still be out trying to get some meteor images. If you are crazy like me look in between the Little and Big Dippers, in the north part of the sky around 10:00 pm. If your not crazy but you still want to get into the action visit this site!! It is the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas, got the link from Listen to meteors fly over the radar, very cool and unearthly sounding, it is a live feed so you may have to wait for a while to hear your first warrble sounding meteor, very cool.

I'll leave you now with an animation of one of my Solar Pillars. I probably won't post till after Christmas so I just like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.


Stephanie Barr said...

Excellent images (of course) and I was particularly impressed with the captured green flash. But, really, do take care in the cold. I've spent years working safety for space EVA (out in suits) and the cold temperatures are so dangerous and hard to recognize.

Max said...

Hi Bob,

First of all: marvellous Sun pictures! I loved them all, and somehow they soothed me (for which I thank you)!
Second: what were you doing out on the cold, man? We cannot afford to lose next time think of us, your fans :D!

I don't celebrate Christmas; but I know you do so...Merry Merry Christmas to you, Lord of the Astropics :D!!!

What a gorgeous greenflash! We get to see a lot of them here...yesterday's was purple and all: gorgeous!

Thanks for this animated gift: I loved it!!

Happy festivities, my friend!!


CJ Harley said...

Wow Bob! Thanks for risking your fingers and toes to get those awesome shots of the sunrise! Great photos as always.

Happy Holidays!

Susanne49 said...

Oh my God, Bob!!! You risk a lot for a nice sunrise! The pictures are impressing! Thanks for your bravery! :)

And MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your family!


Sue's Daily Photography

haleyhughes said...

I'm glad you didn't freeze. Excellent photos.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks so much Stephanie, too cool, I have a Rocket Scientist commenting on my blog, and one that has worked on safety for space EVAs.

I actually pulled my glove off to turn off the camera that's when the pain started, lol what's funny is that I was going to mention it in this post and compare the cold to outer space and ask the question would a astronaut take their gloves off, seriously I really was, really, but the post was getting too long so It didn't make the final cut,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, your too kind max, I was out for you guys, thought it would be a cool thing to do at the time, and it was cool, very cool,lol.

Don't celebrate Christmas eh? the good thing about that is you avoid the crappy materialism that seems to take hold of people and turn them into crazy people, how can you tell I work at a mall,lol

max if you ever see something cool like what you saw yesterday, take a pic and send it too me, free pair of 3D glasses in it for you,lol.

Have a great week max.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks CJ Harley, when I got home and warmed up and took a look at the pics, it was worth it.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks a lot Susanne, got your book and it is great , thanks and a Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks so much haleyhughes

Stephanie Barr said...

You laugh, but we've had astronauts with frostbite. Because of the inability to reject heat/cold, surfaces on spacecraft can be as colder as -325 deg F and as hot as 500 deg F (though usually surface treatments or Multi-layer insulation is used to preclude contact with those extremes). Astronauts can tell when something is too hot and let go before they do permanent damage to the glove or themselves, but cold is more insidious. The dabble with frostbite is one reason why the gloves have heaters now.

And, no, they don't take their gloves off. Astronauts are smart. :)

By the way, this Friday, I'll be fielding Rocket Science questions for "Ask the Rocket Scientist" so, if there's something you'd like to ask, feel free. I was the EVA Safety engineer on the last two HST servicing missions.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Stephanie, I'll give you a hint to my question. I am very interested in Solar Sails.\m/\m/

Stephanie Barr said...

YOU are in luck. I designed one in college before I started working at NASA. Bet you didn't see THAT coming.

Bob Johnson said...

No, no I didn't,lol.\m/\m/

Roger said...

Ha! My camera can take that cold and more of course I need a fork to pry my frozen finger off the trigger lol! :D Just Kidding bud! I have enjoyed your blog greatly through out the year and marvel at all the great photography you share with us!

A Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

Bryan Karl said...

I love the images. Brilliant!

Anna said...

Bob, my camera just does not respond at all in the cold. I think the connection shrinks and looses power. BTW your story is funny, and pictures of the sun are amezing. Yeah one of them does look like it has something blowing off the top, I got similar effect with the last full moon we had. It was cold then, but not as cold as at your place, lol, only -8 C. I cannot compete with your temperatures Bob!

So Bob, another great year, and we both made to second Xmas this year. You been doing great, you got some cool stuff going here. Nice evolution.

And time to thank you for supporting my blog, your kind and humorous comments, fun and everything else, oh, and the 3D glasses.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! Looking forward to your adventerous posts in 2009. Just don't do any crazy stunts my friend, lol.

Anna :)

Genie said...

Listening to possible meteor flybys even as I type, awesome link!

Stupendous photos! It's been cloudy here for days, for which I'm grateful because it means a little moisture. But it also means I'm not seeing the sky and didn't get to grok the solstice sun. I stared and stared at your suns. Wow! And green flash, yea!

Heard one! Maybe. A little blip in that monotonous but haunting drone? Hearing more! That's just awesome, they all seem to have their own unique sound--some are really startling!

I can't fathom how you can bear to be out in such extremely cold air! Hubby got a pop-up hunting blind as a Christmas present today. Its "windows" open from any side, he can set a chair in it, he can stand in it... he loves it. Made me think of you out there in the cold. Although as cold as it is up there, it wouldn't do you a bit of good except as shelter from the wind.

Keep those extremities warm, Bob, we like your work too much to tolerate your endangering yourself!

Peter said...

Hi Bob! Awesome images but is all of this worth dying for? Going out alone in -39c is fraught with danger and I hate to see anything terrible happen to you.

Do you go out with any type of survival kit? I suggest you do for heavens sake!

Ok! I beginning to sound like my mother. Look after yourself will you!

Have a great Christmas and a happy new year.

Take Care,

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Roger thanks. Hey you haven't lived till you have grabbed your metal tripod with your bare fingers at -39c,lol, ouch. Thanks for your visits and all your photography tips and site codes, Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Wow Bryan, thanks for the nice comment and dropping by.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Anna, I don't know of many people that can compete with these temps, gonna warm up to -20c later this week, short and tee weather here,lol.

What can I say about you Anna, you've been with me since almost day 1, it's been a blast hasn't it?

I have always loved and appreciated your photography and straight forward posts, with always a little humor added for good measure.

Merry Christmas and all the best to your and your family in 2009.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Genie, I know you would love that link, hey you can use it instead of Christmas music when you are sitting down for Christmas dinner,lol, Christmas music is so passe when compared to a meteor flyby,lol.

That hunting blind sounds cool, but like you said not much good when it's -39c with no wind, probably fall asleep and die in the chair,lol.

Thanks for your visits and cool photography as well Genie and a Merry Christmas and the best for 2009.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Peter, okay Dad. No I don't have a survival kit but am seriously thinking of getting one, at least some kind of blanket, and I do like candles,lol.

Thanks for your visits during the year Peter and have a great Christmas and all the best for 2009.\m/\m/

Swubird said...


Great pictures of the shortest day, but you nearly turned into a block of stone. Better be careful. Those sounds of the meteors zipping by were cool. I've never heard anything like that before.

Great post.

Merry Christmas

Max said...


It's a deal, Bob: when I see something cool again, I will take a pic and send it to you! :D


Sherer said...

WOW Bob, that picture with the solar flair is simply awesome! Great image. Also some interesting ones at sunset. Very very good post. \m/


Oswegan said...

Lovely shots Bob. The solstice was freezing rain here!
Happy Holidays my friend.

Mizé said...

As usual, awsome pics. I never saw a solstice live.
A Good Christmas!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird, the sounds are very cool, you and yours have a Merry Christmas too.

Bob Johnson said...

Cool max.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Jesse, Merry Christmas and a great 2009.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Oswegan. Happy Holidays and a great new year too you.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks for dropping by Mize, Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.\m/\m/

Drowsey Monkey said...

What you do for the sake of your blog, and for us. -39?!? WOW!

Gorgeous photos, never seen anything like this.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Drowsey, at least I get some crazy cool pics out of it,lol.\m/\m/

irel said...

Merry Christmas!!!

Bob Johnson said...

Merry Christmas to you too irel.\m/\m/

notedscholar said...

Good images, as always.

Great for the Christmas season.


Bob Johnson said...

Thanks a lot NS, hope the best for you in 2009.

kml said...

Very deceiving, Bob. If you hadn't stated the temp I would have thought they were summer sun images.

Hope you and your family have a beautiful holiday season! Hope your New Year is filled with all that is good!


Will said...

All great shots as always, Bob! Is that indeed a flare?

The band of green in that one shot was not just sitting there? It was a flash? Wow, how did you capture it?

We are getting blasted by winter weather day after day here in Oregon, but no temperatures like that! Here it actually hovers right around freezing so it gets messy at times. Snow, then freezing rain, then snow again, repeat over and over.

Merry Christmas Bob! And thanks for all your visits and comments over the past year.

lunaticg said...

great sun you take in here... wish I can take photo like that one day. See you around.

your "Health Assistant" said...

Happy Healthy Holidays!!!
for you and your family!


Cashmere said...

Hi Bob!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to you! :)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Kathy, Happy New Year to you and yours as well.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Will, no it is not an actual Solar Flare, the atmosphere had refracted the top part of the Sun except for the flare looking shape, very cool.

I hate that kind of weather, very dangerous for road conditions, we get that a lot of freezing rain near the beginning of winter and spring, always sanding our mall's parking lot.

Thanks a lot for all your visits and comments also Will, all the best to you in 2009.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks and thanks for dropping by lunaticg.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Health Assistant, and all the best to you and yours in 2009!\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Right back at ya Cashmere!!\m/\m/

*lynne* said...

these are glorious pictures! thanks for sharing, they are particularly special because you almost froze when taking them! Next time, be careful! :D

My Autism Insights said...

Amazing shots!

Anne Vis said...

Impressive work and great info!

Evelyn said...

I like how the sun seemed to melt into a puddle. See? Even the sun couldn't take the cold! Brrrr! We think we're going to die at 60F around here and I thought Nashville was a refrigerator at 30-something. Those are "above" temps by the way. So, I can see how freezer temperatures might turn you into a popsicle before you know it.

Just found you, thank you, Entrecard, and I'm off to find night sky stuff. I love night-sky stuff. Uh, as long as it's above 70 degrees. I can't help it!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Lynne, I have bought new gloves and a pull over toque, it's only going to get colder here,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks My Autism Insights!\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anne, and thanks for dropping by!\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks Evelyn, I have found a great many sights through Entrecard, love it.\m/\m/

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