Friday, August 03, 2012

Hazy morning

Hazy sunrise on E. Siddonsburg Rd., Monaghan Twp., York County, Pennsylvania
Hazy, humid days in August are a given in any year in southern Pennsylvania. Today’s haze is notable only because it’s a bit hazier than usual. In the early morning, the haze can create an unusual light for an hour or so before fading to run-of-the-mill haze.

By this point of the year, summer haze has really kicked in. It’s no surprise that I have a lot of humidity here. My region contains and is surrounded by Appalachian mountains and forests. Forests, of course, pump huge amounts of water into the atmosphere. Each tree is like a pumping station that’s running full time during the summer. It’s not just the Smokey Mountains that are smoky.

I try to view the haze as a good thing—transpiration working properly to produce rain and create more oxygen in the atmosphere. Without it, we’d all be flopping like fish here on the earth. So despite what the humidity in the air does to photography, I won’t complain too much about it.

The nights are often hazy, too, and that part I don’t care for, as it limits decent stargazing. This is especially true now with the annual Perseid meteor shower gearing up. Earth is already entering what calls “a broad stream” of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle and a fireball from that was spotted over New Mexico last night. Although the meteor stream is still low at about 10 meteors per hour, forecasters expect the shower to peak on August 12-13 with as many as 100+ meteors per hour. Roundtop is a decent place to watch for meteors, as the mountain is pretty far from the worst of city light pollution. But haze obscures the view too, and of course weather overhead, close to earth, is always a worry.

But the meteor shower is still more than a week away and that’s too far away to worry about clouds or storms just yet. If the weather permits, I’ll be out on one of the ski slopes watching one of nature’s greatest shows.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Carolyn: No need to lament about "what the humidity in the air does to photography": your image is striking and surreal. Be proud of what the humidity has done for you!

Here, so close to Philadelphia, the Perseid shower is all but a washout. However, 32 years ago, Kali and I had a chance to enjoy the Perseid show all night long under perfect (observation) conditions: we were freezing our butts off conducting an aquatic invertebrate study on a lake above treeline high in the Beartooth Mountains in Wyoming. Each hour for 24 hours, we had to row out into the middle of the lake and lower a zooplankton net into the depths to collect aquatic crustaceans as they migrated upward at dark and downward in light. Fortunately, we got to do it during the Perseid shower against pitch black skies. Unfortunately, we got so chilled that I don't think I've ever been colder. Obviously, the memory lasted a lifetime.