Week 40 at the Pole

Huge bright sun over rough surface of South Pole, with mirage (Fata Morgana) on horizon.
Moreno Baricevic, IceCube/NSF

Now there’s a bright sun! And it looks like it’s shining over a body of water with choppy waves.  But that’s just an illusion, stemming from the shadows cast by a low sun over the rough icy surface at the South Pole. There’s another apparition above, where something appears to be stretching across the entire horizon, but that’s a mirage—a specific type of mirage, called the Fata Morgana. These mirages can be seen on land or at sea but tend to be more commonly seen in polar regions, where there are large expanses of landscape at a uniform low temperature. Clearly, the sky was busy last week at the Pole. In the image below, we see the winterovers’ first sun halo of the summer, another optical phenomenon involving light refraction. The bottom photo shows the IceCube Lab in low, bright sunshine with the moon high overhead.

Sun halo around early sun low on horizon at the South Pole.
Moreno Baricevic, IceCube/NSF
The IceCube Lab sitting in low, bright sunshine with moon high overhead.
Aman Chokshi, SPT/NSF