Moondog and Mars

October 31, 2003


Provided and copyright by: Peg Staudenmaier
Summary authors & editors: Peg Staudenmaier

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.

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