I must definitely keep up with the news more often. An old friend from Cornwall, who I knew as Bunny but is now also known as Nathaniel Burton-Bradford, has done some cool enough work to have his pictures displayed and linked to on Universe Today! I only found out because I decided to do some proper work writing about Herschel and M51 on the forum.
Credit: Nathaniel's photostream. Do check out the rest! I've met Frodo the dog. He's very excitable.
The above is the one in the article; there are more of Herschel and other craft in 3D, and many other interesting pictures besides. I wish 3D glasses worked for me, but since they do for other people, I shall be inclusive even if it means excluding myself - haha, was that good enough, political correctness? Just kidding. I'm really pleased.
I can't resist adding this one, which is called "22 degree halo". I have no idea what the "22 degree" bit means - but perhaps we'll be enlightened in Oxford on Sunday! I do, however, remember these haloes turning up a lot in Cornwall. Many years before, during the winter of 2000/01, I'd been living in Warrington, near Manchester, where I was desperately cold. I remember the feeling of the metal mattress springs sucking the heat from my body. I'd put all my clothes on over my pyjamas, wrap the duvet around me like a coccoon, and put my towel and coat on top of it, but still I shivered. The fire gave me a blinding headache within minutes of being switched on (I'm sure it had a certificate for carbon monoxide safety, but everything did regardless of what state it was in). The canal froze so hard that someone chucked bottles and a rock the size of my head on it one morning and the ice wasn't even cracked. In short, I was a lot colder in Warrington than I ever was in Cornwall - but it was Cornwall where I saw those haloes.
Credit: Nathaniel's photostream.
They appeared around streetlights and car headlights in the early morning, as I walked to school in the dark, often before 7am. They looked to me like ring galaxies. They were golden around streetlamps, white or rainbow coloured around cars. And sometimes they'd appear around my bedside light as soon as I'd switched it on - and in its reflection in the mirror. They were beautiful, shimmering with bright colours, and I'd miss them as the sun came up and they faded.
Infinity found me a site to explain that they were light polarization, caused by ice crystals in the air. These crystals are hexagonal and reflect or refract light in a way that water droplets do not. It's interesting that there was ice in the air in warm Cornwall, but not cold Warrington. Anyway, the light effects were cool, and it's great to have an excuse to show them to you even by this roundabout route!