A New Cloud Type is Proposed

Turbulent wave clouds over the San Francisco Peaks (Jan 2021).
Turbulent wave clouds over the San Francisco Peaks (Jan 2021).

You would think that we have seen all the types of clouds—and named them—that can be seen. But the International Cloud Atlas added one new type (asperitas) in 2017 and is now may be asked to consider adding another—Supercilium. From the Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather journal:

‘Supercilium’ are short-lived cloud features, which appear in turbulent airflow over, and to the immediate lee of, steep mountain peaks during periods of strong mountain summit level winds.

I have seen and photographed this type of cloud several times over the years. My most recent photographs in January 2021 were posted to a weather discussion group in which several folks proposed some hypotheses on the nature and formation of these clouds. We did not reach a consensus or conclusion.

Same as above but zoomed in on the feathery tendrils.
Same as above but zoomed in on the feathery tendrils.
Another example seen over the Rocky Mountains (1990).
Another example seen over the Rocky Mountains (1990).

The Weather article proposes a name and description:

Proposed classification description
Supercilium: Short-lived, broken thin wisps of cloud, irregularly distributed, appearing to tumble and break in a turbulent way in airflow over, and to the immediate lee of, steep mountain peaks during periods of strong mountain summit level winds. Applies mainly to Altocumulus and Stratocumulus, possibly Cirrocumulus, sometimes coincident with the Duplicatus variety.

Nice to see that there will be a specific name applied to these very interesting clouds.

Edit: Fixed link to Weather journal.

 

Total Lunar Eclipse of November 2022

Total Lunar eclipse of 08 November 2022.
Total Lunar eclipse of 08 November 2022.

I hope you got to experience the total lunar eclipse that occurred 08 November 2022. I’m really glad we were able to see this since the next total lunar eclipse is not until 14 March 2025. This was also the second total lunar eclipse of the year but that previous one was attended by mostly cloudy skies and we only got a few glimpses of the Moon. This one was so much better!

Lunar eclipse at maximum totality. Th planet Uranus is also visible in the upper portion of the image.
Lunar eclipse at maximum totality. Th planet Uranus is also visible in the upper portion of the image.

But it wasn’t entirely certain that we would be able to see the event. There were clouds during the afternoon and evening. When I looked outside at midnight there were bands of high clouds stretching across the sky. But I was more than willing to take a chance and drive to a location in Sedona with very dark skies and warmer temperatures than we had in Flagstaff.

The high clouds continued during the beginning of the partial eclipse (U1) but we could see gaps appearing in the clouds and we ended up with mostly clear skies by the time the Moon was about one half darkened. Totality (U2 through U3) occurred during clear skies and there were only a few patches of high clouds during the final partial stages.

I was using a Nikon D750 and my legacy Nikon 80–200mm ƒ/4 AI-S manual focus lens. It has a hard stop at infinity which makes it very easy to focus in dark conditions. Just rotate the barrel until it stops. Done. It’s also a sharp lens especially when using it at ƒ/8. The camera was mounted on an iOptron Skytracker. This way I could keep the Moon near the middle of the frame and the only motion would be the eastward movement of the Moon against the background of the stars.

The Moon was close in the sky to the planet Uranus making for a more interesting setup. The eclipse last year was near Pleiades—that was really fun to photograph—but it was not quite a total eclipse.

The photograph at the top shows the Moon at various stages from beginning, mid partial, beginning of totality, mid totality, end of totality, mid partial, and the end.  The next photograph shows the Moon during maximum totality along with Uranus. And, finally, there is a time-lapse video of the event.

Time lapse of the eclipse.

Previous eclipses discussed on this site: November 2021; May 2022

Finally, pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about eclipses can be found here:  https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEcat5/figure.html

Fall Color in Oak Creek Canyon

It’s early November and the aspen leaves have fallen across the higher elevations of northern Arizona. But autumn colors are not done–they have just shifted to lower elevations.

Tree on the side of the road in Oak Creek Canyon.
Tree on the side of the road in Oak Creek Canyon.

Earlier this week we decided to hike the North Wilson Mountain Trail in Oak Creek Canyon. It starts at ~1450 m and we turned around at ~1910 m at the intersection with the main Wilson Mountain Trail. The best autumn colors were found early in the hike where the trail is in a north-facing drainage. In this section we encountered primarily maple trees but we also found oak, sumac, and Arizona Ash as well as a few wildflowers.

Red sumac leaves on the North Wilson Mountain trail.
Red sumac leaves on the North Wilson Mountain trail.
Maple tree in noontime sun.
Maple tree in noontime sun.
Evidence of the Brins Fire (2006) is still present on this hillside but young maple trees are taking root here.
Evidence of the Brins Fire (2006) is still present on this hillside but young maple trees are taking root here.

This part of Oak Creek Canyon was burned in the 2006 Brins Fire and there are reminders of this wildfire all along the trail. But fire also brings new growth and the maples appear to be thriving in this location.

Late-season violets can still be found along the trail.
Late-season violets can still be found along the trail.
Arizona ash tree on the North Wilson Mountain trail.
Arizona ash tree on the North Wilson Mountain trail.
Our turnaround spot near the intersection of Wilson and North Wilson trails provides sweeping views of the lower sections of Oak Creek Canyon.
Our turnaround spot near the intersection of Wilson and North Wilson trails provides sweeping views of the lower sections of Oak Creek Canyon.
Maples displaying lots of color.
Maples displaying lots of color.
A view across Oak Creek Canyon to the climbing area known as The Waterfall.
A view across Oak Creek Canyon to the climbing area known as The Waterfall.
From the trailhead parking lot with a view of color on the west face of Oak Creek Canyon--and some interesting clouds above.
From the trailhead parking lot with a view of color on the west face of Oak Creek Canyon–and some interesting clouds above.
Autumn color in Oak Creek Canyon.
Autumn color in Oak Creek Canyon.

From our turnaround spot near the junction of North Wilson and Wilson trails we had grand views of the lower portions of Oak Creek and the Red Rock country of Sedona.

These ravens--and a western bluebird(?)--were happy to let me take their photograph.
These ravens–and a western bluebird(?)–were happy to let me take their photograph.

Colorful day!

Edit: formatting issues

Aspen in the Fall

The aspen leaves have now mostly fallen to the ground with only a few patches of color left. It has been a good year for leaf peeping and I was able to capture several images that I like. But I have also captured some good photos over the years and this post highlights some of those.

Inner Basin Trail, October 2014.
Inner Basin Trail, October 2014.

My favorite is this photo taken while mountain biking in the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks. Shot with fill flash and an ultra-wide angle lens.

Inner Basin, 2005.
Inner Basin, 2005.

One of my earliest photos, also in the Inner Basin, was shot on Fuji Provia film in 2005. The remaining photos are from 2008 through 2022 and are, of course, digital shots.

Waterline Road, 2008.
Waterline Road, 2008.
Arizona Trail at Bismarck Lake, 2010.
Arizona Trail at Bismarck Lake, 2010.
Aspen Corner, Snowbowl Road, 2011.
Aspen Corner, Snowbowl Road, 2011.
Weatherford Canyon, 2012.
Weatherford Canyon, 2012.
NWS, Bellemont, 2012.
NWS, Bellemont, 2012.
Inner Basin, 2013.
Inner Basin, 2013.
Mountain biking, Inner Basin Trail, 2013.
Mountain biking, Inner Basin Trail, 2013.
Arizona Trail, 2013.
Arizona Trail, 2013.
Forest Road 418, 2013.
Forest Road 418, 2013.
Waterline Road, 2014.
Waterline Road, 2014.
Inner Basin Trail, 2015.
Inner Basin Trail, 2015.
Lockett Meadows and Inner Basin, 2015.
Lockett Meadows and Inner Basin, 2015.
Waterline Road, 2018.
Waterline Road, 2018.
Weatherford Canyon, 2018.
Weatherford Canyon, 2018.
Mormon Mountain, 2018.
Mormon Mountain, 2018.
San Francisco Peaks, 2019.
San Francisco Peaks, 2019.
Hochderffer Hills, 2021.
Hochderffer Hills, 2021.
Dry Lake Hills, 2022.
Dry Lake Hills, 2022.
Arizona Trail, 2022.
Arizona Trail, 2022.
Alfa Fia Tank, 2022.
Alfa Fia Tank, 2022.
Arizona Trail, 2022.
Arizona Trail, 2022.

Clouds at Sunset

Storms were moving across the region and there was a chance of rainbows developing. But, in the end, the geometry was not right with the heavy rain in the wrong location for rainbows. Instead, we got these colorful clouds as the sun began to set.

I was happy with the results.