PSU interns parting comment

2011-01-21 18:21:58.000 – Michael Pirhalla,  Plymouth State Intern

Halo around last nights moon.

An interesting optical effect of the moon occurred last night. Around 9PM, I decided to take a walk around the observatory deck for some fresh air and to check out the lights of the surrounding towns. The full moon brightly illuminated the summit. As I stepped outside, I immediately noticed there was a large halo encompassing the moon. This ring around the moon is caused by the refraction of moonlight from ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. The shape of the ice crystals results in a focusing of the light into a ring. This can similarly occur around the sun, as well. Sometimes, a lunar halo could be confused with a corona. However, coronas are typically formed by low and mid-level clouds and have a much smaller diameter around the moon.

We have been in the clouds all day, and the wind has picked up over the last few hours. Winds tonight could gust as high as 80 mph with temperatures well below zero. The wind has caused any snow we received to drift. One of our doors had a snow drift of over five feet. It was an interesting experience for me to try to dig it out, with the help of Rebecca, the summit intern. The gusty winds kept blowing the snow all around, and I couldn’t keep my goggles from fogging up.

It has been an awesome two week adventure for my fellow PSU Intern, Jason Kaiser, and I. We leave Mt. Washington tomorrow afternoon with a bunch of memories and a completed research project. I can’t think of a better way to spend my college winter vacation!


Michael Pirhalla,  Plymouth State Intern

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