Ice Crystal Sunrise

Another beautifully cold morning! The skies were perfectly clear – not a cloud in the sky – and the pastel sunrise colors almost took my breath away as much as the bone-chilling cold air. Why does it have to be so cold when the skies are this nice?! The unfortunate reality is that the skies are this nice because it’s so cold. Good viewing conditions emerge because cold, dry weather provides these conditions. They go hand-in-hand, at least here in Ohio. Places like Arizona enjoy nice, dry, clear, calm skies even on warm nights. One day I’ll make my way out there…

But in the meantime, I’ll have to suffer through freezing evenings and mornings to catch a glimpse of gorgeous skies. This morning, for instance, I was treated to a brilliant full moon looming just over the horizon with a pastel backdrop. Directly behind me was the first glimpse of the fiery sun emerging from its slumber to start a new day. This illustrates a good point: you’ll never see a full moon while the sun is still out. You know how you can sometimes see the moon in the daytime? You’ll only ever see it in a crescent or gibbous phase. You’ll never see a full moon in the daytime. That’s because the moon looks full to us on Earth when the Earth is directly in between the sun and the moon. So when the full moon is setting in the west, the sun will simultaneously be rising in the east. These two photos are taken at the exact same time, I just rotated 180°.

I snapped this photo of ice crystals (below) on my car window during my morning commute to work. I was stopped at a red light and the colors of the sunrise looked awesome through the tiny ice crystals that had formed overnight. Ice, and crystalline structures in general, are super fascinating to me. The fact that molecular vibrations can cause very ordered structures is amazing. Not only that, since the vibrations are very precise, we actually use crystals as clocks inside our computers. You wouldn’t be able to read this if it weren’t for vibrating crystals… how cool is that?! Furthermore, the basis of life itself may be based on some type of primitive, self-replicating, crystalline structure! …Ok, I’ll stop before I go off on a huge tangent! Maybe I’ll save that for another post altogether.

On a completely separate note, I finally figured out how to fix my binoculars! I’m actually really excited about this… I bought these binoculars about a year or two ago that are designed for backyard astronomy observing even though sure, you could use them for other things. They’re built really nice and got amazing reviews, but when I would look through them, the optics didn’t seem to be aligned. By tinkering, I found that if I pulled down slightly on the right side and press up on the left side, the images would align. I did a quick online search at the time and found that aligning binoculars was extremely hard and/or impractical. I was pretty bummed, but ended up using them with my cheap remedy for many months.

Fast forward to last night and I decided to give it another shot. Did some more searching online and realized that my first attempt at finding online binocular alignment information was pretty poor because I found some very helpful guides right away! And the best part, it was super easy; locate one screw, turn it a quarter turn and bam… aligned. The skis were crystal clear last night and I couldn’t wait to try out my ‘new’ binoculars but alas, it was much too cold. Again, the reason for still, clear skies stems from cold weather conditions providing pristine skies… you usually don’t get one without the other. I caught the moons of Jupiter then ran inside before my beard froze. At least they’ll be ready for the next observing opportunity!

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