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Parhelia (Mock Suns)


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About this observation
Peter Anderson
Time of observation
17/11/2018 - 14:00
Observing location
Limon, Colorado USA
35mmSLR camera 35mmFL lens
Not relevant
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Date is January 1990.

After a difficult drive from the west the previous evening on treacherous icy roads, we left the motel and drove a couple of hundred metres to a restaurant for breakfast. There in the east framed by their huge picture window, three suns rose.

We had never encountered anything like it!  It is caused by internal reflections within suspended ice crystals and the full phenomenon includes arcs and other stuff.  However in our case you can see that the ice crystal haze reduces rapidly with altitude and we mainly just saw the three suns.  My camera couldn't handle the wide angle so I cobbled together the three images reproduced here.

There are a number of historical accounts of this rare phenomena and I will quote one involving a battle:

(The two armies met at Mortimer's Cross Hereford. - The other army was of French, Bretons, and Irish who were advancing through Wales and Edward had turned to engage them.)

In the morning of 2nd February 1460/61, just before the battle, Edward's men were alarmed by the sight of three suns, but Edward at once declared it a good omen: 'Beethe of good comfort, and dredethe not, thys ys a good sygne, for these iij sonys betokene the Fadr, the Sone, and the Holy Gost, and therfore late us haue a good harte, and in the name of the Almyghtye God go we agayns oure enemyes.' He then 'made his prayers and thanked God; and anon freshly and manly he took the field upon his enemies and put them to flight.' 

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