Moondog and Mars
October 31, 2003
On October 8, one night prior to this month's Full Hunter's Moon, this colorful moondog appeared next to bright Mars (photo taken at about 20:00). Moondogs are formed by refraction of the same hexagonal ice crystals in the upper atmosphere as their daytime counterparts, sundogs. They're more rare however, since only a Moon that's close to full casts enough light to form them. This one, though short-lived, was a stunning sight on a warm Indian Summer evening.
If you're out tonight, don't forget to look up. Ignore those bats, ghosts and that witch flying by on a broom, and keep an eye out for halos and coronas. But since the Moon is only half illuminated tonight, you're more likely to spy a witch than a moondog. However, as a result of powerful solar flares the past few days, you may be able to see the northern lights.