Rainbows, halos, coronas, and glories are aesthetic features admired over millennia by man. They are also carriers of useful information about the physical properties of drops and solid particles floating in the atmospheres of Earth and other planets. Although atmospheric optics is a centuries-old discipline, significant progress in the understanding of these phenomena has been achieved during the past 40 years, as well as of their relation to the physical properties of the individual scatterers. At the same time, with the development of planetary exploration, the number of observations of rainbows, halos, and glories in the atmospheres of planets other than Earth is steadily growing. In this article we describe these phenomena and their information content and illustrate them with pictures mostly showing their typical appearance rather than presenting the “best pictures ever.”
Sirius was spotted with the naked eye at
broad daylight by looking along the finder of a
At the IAU meeting of December 2009 Minor Planet 12157 (an asteroid) received the name Können, after me. Its diameter is about 5 km. Asteroid Können is at 2.4 AE from the sun and circles the sun in 3.75 year. The naming is formalized on 2 Dec 2009.
The limiting magnitude during totality is +3.5. Diffraction coronas and even halos around the totally eclipsed sun may nevertheless occur. Rainbows during totality seem impossible.
A response is given to a Letter by G. Watts questioning the identification of subsuns in general and of the bright steak on Mars in terms of halo scattering.
A bright subsun is spotted on a satellite picture of Mars. To our knowledge this is the first time that a halo is identified on a picture of a planet other than the Earth.
The prospects of the Huygens probe to detect during its descent halos from methane or ethane crystals on Titan are discussed. Diagrams of potential halo displays on Titan are shown.
Ray-tracing analyses show that the NZ effect distorted the relative positions of Jupiter and the Moon in such a way that the looked-for fingerprint of the 1597 conjunction occurred almost 2 h after the true conjunction. The quoted direction for the apparent Moon-Jupiter conjunction is then found to be accurate to within 1°. This delay of the apparent conjunction largely explains the error of 29° in their longitude determination. The truthfulness of the observations brackening the first recording of the NZ effect, debated for four centuries, now appears to be beyond doubt.
Systematics of the Novaya Zemlya (NZ) effect are discussed in the context of sunsets. We distinguish full mirages, exhibiting oscillatory light paths and their onsets, the subcritical mirages. Ray-tracing examples and sequences of solar images are shown. We discuss two historical observations by Fridtjof Nansen and by Vivian Fuchs, and we report a recent South Pole observation of the NZ effect for the Moon.
It is found that halo displays are always left-right (L-R) symmetric if the crystals are formed from the surrounding vapor. This leaves room for two types of halo display only: a full symmetric one (mmm -symmetric), and a partial symmetric one (mm2 -symmetric) in which halo constituents lack their counterparts on the other side of the parhelic circle. Partial symmetric displays can occur only for point halos and only if the halo-making crystals lack a center of inversion, any rotatory-inversion axis that is parallel to the crystal spin axis P, a mirror plane perpendicular to the P axis, and a twofold rotation axis perpendicular to the P axis. A simple conceptual method is presented to reconstruct possible shapes of the halo-generating crystals from the halos in the display. Halos that may occur on the Saturnian satellite Titan are briefly discussed.
Scanning the polarization of Venus at scattering angles 18-32° and at wavelengths 402-850 nm, we found a dip in polarization in the scattering angle range 23-25° for wavelengths 622 nm and longer. The width of the dip was 1-3°, its magnitude 0.4% in degree of polarization. The dip is consistent with the occurrence of a halo in the Venus atmosphere due to H2SO4-contaminated ice crystals in the upper haze layer of Venus. It remains unclear however why the halo is manifesting itself only at long wavelengths.
An account is given about our attempts at La Palma Observatory to detect ice crystals in the Venus's atmosphere, including the drawback of a temporary instrumental malfunction and our subsequent fortune that we got the opportunity to scan a terrestrial halo in a Venus-spoiling cirrus deck.
The polarization distribution in the sky during a total solar eclipse is calculated with a simple secondary light scattering model. The model can explain various observations during totality, including the measurements by Shaw of the polarization distribution of the sky in the solar vertical during the 1973 total eclipse.
Triple planet-planet conjunctions are presented for AD 0-3000. It is shown that for Mars-Jupiter and Mars-Saturn two subsequent triple conjunctions can occur with a time separation of one synodic period. Triple conjunctions of bright planets with 1st magnitude stars are briefly discussed.
All occultations of stars brighter than 3.52 by the five bright planets have been calculated for AD 1900-2100; for the first magnitude stars for 1000-3000. In the 21st century, there is a Venus-Regulus, a Venus-p Sgr, a Mercury-aLib and a Mars-qOph occultation.
We calculated these events for the bright outer planets for -100 till +3000 AD. No cases are founf before the 24th century. For Uranus 1850-2050 there are 4 cases, two of them in the 20th century. The rarity of the events in the present time can be explained by the fact that they occur in clusters separated by long-term periodicities.
The shadow of the annual eclipse of 29 April 1976 stands clearly out against the Sahara on the picture taken on 09:37 UT by the NOOA-4 weather satellite.
The rule of Van den Bergh that any time interval between two eclipses can be expressed as a linear combination of integer number of Saros plus an integer number of Inex is supplemented to avoid trivial outcomes.
A bright subsun was spotted on the image taken by the ESSA-8 weather satellite. The subsun appeared on a frontal system east of Greenland. To our knowledge this is the first time that a halo is identified on satellite picture of the Earth.
11 stars brighter than magnitude 4 can be occulted by the totally eclipsed Moon, among them one (Regulus) is of the first magnitude. 7 additional stars can be occulted by bright site of the partially eclipsed Moon. List are given for events between 1900 and 2050. For Regulus, events are calculated for 0-2450. Events are found to occur in clusters. The last Regulus event was in 1943, the next is in 2445. Periodicities are discussed.
The occultations by the Moon of Aldebaran, Regulus, Spica, Antares and Alcyone occuring between 1940 and 2050 are calculated.
The extreme geocentric declinations of the Moon are presented for 1920-2050.