Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Message in a Bottle

Tiny actions we take affect other other creatures. I'm sure the person who discarded this bottle at a scenic location knew that when the glass breaks it would pose a safety hazard. This person probably knew that he or she was creating pointless litter in a scenic location that is enjoyed by many visitors. And the person probably knew, that eventually, someone would pick up the bottle. But I suspect the person did not know that before the bottle would be collected, it would trap and kill a couple dozen beetles.

I photographed the bottle because I found the number of dead beetles in it remarkable. I then shook out the contents before stowing it in my car, but as emptied it, I was surprised by how many dead beetles of all sizes continued to fall out. I regret that I didn't count them first, but I estimate two dozen beetles died in this bottle.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Circum-Horizon Arc at Joshua Tree

On labor day, 2013, I used my magic for finding locations that I nearly have to myself. My secret this time was to choose desert-baked rocks at Joshua Tree National Park during high temperatures coupled with unusually high humidity. Though the humidity was challenging my personal breaking point, it came with the blessing of great and rare cloud formations. Most notable was a circum-horizon arc that caught me without a camera, so I had to use my cell phone:

Circum-horizon arc in the sky showing green to orange rainbow colors.
In the photo above, I imagine the cloud in the lower right as an obscene gesture taunting me for not having my best camera.

A half hour later, maybe longer, I had my camera and had finished climbing another outcrop of rocks. When I looked back to admire my progress, the arc had returned, now sporting a lot of blue and green color:

Over the next 10 minutes, the arc changed to emphasize the orange part of the rainbow spectrum:

This photo is an attempt to provide a reference point for the location of circum-horizon arcs. The sun is just off the top of the photo, and around it is the more common ice halo that was also visible this day. The circum-horizon arc can be seen in the lower right.

I understand that circum-horizon arcs can be seen only when the sun is high overhead, making this effect a summer phenomenon. That is, I assume at my lattitude (about 32 degress N.) the sun never gets high enough in winter (though the atmospheric conditions are more likely to produce the necessary ice crystals to create this refracted light effect). High summer humidity and thunderstorms, however, puts a lot of moisture high enough where it can freeze and give us these arcs. This is the second circum-horizon arc I've seen. The last one was in early Aug. a couple years ago.