Yesterday’s comet, space debris, or asteriod passage

There was quite an astrological event yesterday, hope you caught it. Only lasted a minute or two as a comet, or a gigantic piece of space debris, or maybe that asteroid that astronomers said was going to hit earth, an event usurped on the Seattle Times front page (!) by a Washington Husky basketball victory over the ranked Xavier U team1 blazed across the sky.

Happened to walk out side just as it appeared in the sky and became very afraid at first glance, but had enough presence of mind to take a couple of quick shots for posterity in the seconds before possible death as we all do these days no matter how bad things are for us at the time since we have our smart phones with us, and why not?  Might go viral and we’ll be famous at last!

I was thinking there would be this gigantic, cataclysmic explosion like the one that ended dinosaur life on earth 65 million years ago any moment.     But, then nothing happened and I realized I had been fooled by a parhelia (sun dog or mock sun) with a strong radial-like portion!  How funny izzat?  Here are more images of those things.

In case you missed it, or also got very afraid for a moment, likely as early peoples and their astrologers would have, likely interpreting the  phenomenon as a sign from the gods to sacrifice someone for a great crop or hunting season,  here it is:

2:56 PM.  Rare comet or gigantic space debris sighting during the daylight hours.
2:56 PM. Rare comet or gigantic space debris sighting during the daylight hours.
2:56 PM.  Zooming closer
2:56 PM. Zooming in closer
Also 2:56 PM.  You can see how hot it is on the front end as it races across the sky.
Also 2:56 PM. You can see really how hot it is on the front end as it races across the
sky and into the earth’s atmosphere!

 The weather?

Oh, yeah.   Well first of all, it did rain during the Big Game in Santa Clara last night, as forecast here, and just about everywhere else as well, as many of you likely saw.   While its true that rain falls on the rich and the poor alike;  the good and the evil as well, it only rained Duck touchdowns on the Arizona fubball team last night.

How sad was that?

Was figuring an AZCat victory over The Duck would be the same as a Washington Husky one since we beat down the AZCats in every way imagineable except for the score when we (the former company team) played them a few weeks ago2.

Oh, yeah, the weather HERE….

Overcast pretty much the whole day in the State Winter Cloud of Arizona,  Altostratus–get a lot of that here as storms sideswipe the area.  As you know, Altostratus is a deep mostly or all ice cloud with tops nearly always up near where Cirrus clouds are.

Why, if its so friggin’ deep, you ask, is the optical depth nearly always less than FOUR?  (I can feel your anger).  Of course, more than FOUR would mean the sun’s position is not discernible; its just gray up there.  Well, my friend, its because Altostratus is mostly composed of ice crystals, not very high concentrations of them, typically a few to tens per liter, as contained in a volume of air in one of those today’s “Coke Tastes Great!”) liter bottles.  Those low concentrations let a lot of the sun’s light through even though the clouds are 2-3 km thick.  Really not much to As clouds if you’re flying in them, kind of like being in an extremely light snowstorm.  So, we can see where the sun is.  When the sun is gone, they”re likely more than a few km thick, maybe 4-6 km, since eventually even low concentrations of ice crystals won’t let the position of the sun be seen.

You can expect those thickest As clouds today at times.

Altocumulus clouds, all or mostly droplet clouds are surely going to show up, too, as the moist layers lower into temperatures that are too warm for all ice clouds.

Since droplets are 10 to 1000 times more numerous in clouds than ice crystals, and droplet clouds reflect more sunlight off their tops, a much thinner droplet can obscure the sun’s globe and look darker on the bottom than a much deeper ice cloud.  In techno-speak,  create its much easier for a droplet cloud to be associated with an optical depth of 4 or more– a great piece of information to pass along to your neighbors as a CMJ; do it in a casual way, it’ll be more impressive that way.

Since the 500 mb jet stream is passing south of us today, still looking for a few sprinkles or R– somewhere later this morning or in the afternoon around these parts.

The End, and its really enough! Yikes.  Storms still dead ahead in the remainder of December!



1From the Seattle Times this classic front page on, The Importance of Asteroids Hitting Earth and Husky Basketball:

From 1997.  Yeah, we save stuff.
From 1997. Yeah, we save stuff.


2Like all great former employees, I continue to root for the company team, even though have developed an AZCat partiality, as well.

One thought on “Yesterday’s comet, space debris, or asteriod passage”

  1. Read the entire blurb today to my folks – they got a kick out of it. As always, thanks for sharing!

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