Diamond Dust Complex Over Wendelstein, Germany

February 14, 2007


Provided by: Claudia Hinz, AKM e.V.
Summary authors & editors: Claudia Hinz; Jim Foster

On 11th of December, 2006, I was fortunate enough to observe this amazing and wonderful diamond dust halo phenomenon in the Wendelstein area of Germany. Diamond dust is very small ice crystals (less than about 1 mm in diameter) suspended in clear air. The altitude was approximately 1,100 m (3,610 ft). This was the most impressive display I have ever seen. As ice crystals floated about me, a grand parade of different arcs and halos appeared -- some were colorful and some were washed out. Directly over my head was formed an upper tangent arc that I could thrust my hand into. On the opposite side of the Sun, white arcs crossed each other.

The origin of the ice crystals was definitely natural and not from snow-making machines. Crystal bearing clouds from the very cold valley below creeped up the mountain side and into this mountain saddle. At the time of the display, the Sun elevation was 18 to 20 degrees.

On the above image, the following are pictured (from left to right): Tricker and diffuse anthelic arcs (rarely seen), Wegener arcs (also rarely observed), Subhelic arc (quite rare), parhelic circle (across center of photo), supralateral arc (fairly rare), infralateral arc (also fairly rare), and a portion of the upper tangent arc. Several of these are hard to detect on the photo.

During the period the ice crystals persisted above me, I was also able to identify other halos, which are not shown above. These include the 22┬░ halo, lower tangent arc, complete sun pillar, 46┬░halo, anthelion, parhelion, diffuse anthelic arcs, heliac arc, and Moilanen arc. A truly breathtaking event!

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