Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sun dogs, serendipitous searching, and sunsets

This pair of sundogs were in the sky the other morning over Paris Mountain east of Blacksburg. Sundogs, which appear like little partial rainbows, are also called parahelia, or mock-suns, and are the result of atmospheric ice crystals refracting light. The ancient Greeks considered them a harbinger of rain, and various American folklorists have documented similar ideas in Iowa, Illinois, and the Ozarks. See a sundog, Ozark folklore contends, and the weather's going to change. Seems like they're called sundogs because they accompany the sun, but that might be apocryphal. Or just wrong.

Serendipitous searching for sundogs and folklore led to this posting in a hitherto-unknown blog, The Celestial Monochord, which immediately grabbed my attention with its curious subtitle: "Journal of the Institute for Astrophysics and the Hillbilly Blues." Allright! Now we're talking! The author, Kurt Gegenhuber, is a hardcore folk music aficionado, stargazer, and ardent Dylanophile. And seems somewhat smitten by Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music and Griel Marcus' Invisible Republic. In short, a kindred spirit of sorts. A romp through his postings revealed much about such seemingly disparate things as the New Lost City Ramblers, Barack Obama, astronauts, John Prine, and cracked sidewalks. Plus Tom Waits, which is always a plus. Slapped the ol' Monochord into my Google homepage RSS feed just to see what Kurt's got on his mind.

Ramblings and blog postings aside, it's back to our trusty hilltop venue for some sizzling sunset shots, revealing the lovely New River Valley in all its splendor. As winter comes in this will be harder to catch on a weekday, as my daily sojourn to libraryland will bring me home after the horizon has slipped up past this giant celestial orb. But I'm enjoying it in these autumn days.

Here's another sundog, the warmly backlit Asta this time,
gazing off at something across the golf course :

And finally the horizon slips up and swallows the sun. Goodbye!


we_be_toys said...

Is that what they're called? I took a picture of something similar the other day, but I thought it was just a mini-rainbow. A sundog - go figure!

That last sundog was my favorite!!

Bantering Bibliocrat said...

mine, too. she does love her hikes up the hill.

Mark P said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark P said...

Hi-dee-ho old neighbor. Beautiful pics. Wish I were there.

The Monochord site is pretty cool - I'm adding the feed as well.

FairiesNest said...

"...but that might be apocryphal. Or just wrong." Many things are...hehehe.
Asta is my favorite sundog too...well except for Mattie of course!