Sky Pic Catches Phenom

12/27/2010
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This photo was taken in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It is about 40 km east of the center of Tokyo. Credit: Rikio Imajo

TOKYO (majirox news) – This beautiful photo taken by Majirox News’s contributing photographer Riki Imajo portends neither the second coming nor an earthquake that will obliterate Tokyo from human memory.

“It looks like earthquake clouds that many believe predicate earthquakes,” says Yoko Tanaka, a Web designer who saw the photograph. “Although, I know it’s not scientifically proven.”

Some people believe that such a thing as earthquake weather exists, or earthquake clouds that supposedly resemble those portrayed here. How wrong they are, though. Neither of these things exist, although both of these notions have been around since the time of the Greeks and resurface occasionally.

Geologists are quick to point out that earthquakes originate many kilometers underground far out of any possible reach of the weather systems. Likewise earthquakes have no means by which they are able to affect the weather. Add to this the fact that they occur in all types of weather and at any time of the day or night, and it becomes clear that clouds have nothing to do with earthquakes.

There is a strange phenomenon however that has been seen in conjunction with a number of earthquakes. Some earthquakes are accompanied by bright, multi-colored cotton candy like puffs of light. These brief multi-colored balls of light also occasionally appear prior or following the earthquake.

Yutaka Yasui was the first to successfully photograph these balls of light during the Matsushiro earthquakes in Japan that occurred between 1965 and 1967. Since then they have been observed several times, and were even the subject of an article by two Chinese geologists in the New Scientist magazine. Although a number of theories exist as to why these light balls appear, there is no agreement as to their cause, and they remain unexplained.

If all this talk about earthquakes has sent you scurrying under the table for cover, it’s safe to come out now. Because this photograph does not predict earthquakes as some believe.

The photograph taken by Imajo portrays ”crepuscular rays.” Basically, the setting sun’s light, glowing through holes in the clouds produces these rays and their divergent directions are an effect of perspective due to the sinking of the sun. Sometimes they converge in the opposite direction to where the sun is setting or even more rarely, depending on the cloud conditions, the rays may appear to streak across the sky.

One Web site with a variety of beautiful photographs taken of crepuscular rays and many other atmospheric phenomena is Les Cowley’s http://www.atoptics.co.uk/rayshad.htm, which even offers the visitor a freeware program for calculating the tilt (ecliptic) of the earth for use in taking one’s own sky photography.

Photographer Riki Imajo worked as a photographer/editor for UPI in Asia and Pacific, and has covered the Vietnam War, the U.S. president’s and vice president’s trip to Asia, the Pope’s trips to Asia and the Pacific, various world governments’ meetings, Queen Elizabeth’s trip to India, Soviet President Brezhnev’s trip to India, and a multitude of other newsworthy events.



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