Diamond Dust

Credit Jari Luomaner

Credit Jari Luomaner

Cloud of the Day – Diamond Dust

It is really hard to find good pictures of diamond dust, so I’m going to have to just describe it to you. Diamond dust is a colloquial name given to ice crystals when they are close enough to the ground that they can be seen individually. Ice crystals are also involved in other optical meteorological phenomena, such as halos and sun dogs, but there they are seen in aggregate.

Ice crystals - dave 3457 - Public Domain

Ice crystals – dave 3457 – Public Domain

In diamond dust you are right among them and you can see them separately. Follow the links for the detailed explanation, a picture and a video. As an illustration of being within the phenomenon, the photographer describes how he moved his arm and stirred the thing he was photographing. Now get ready for the mental pictures.

Imagine you are standing in the middle of a snowy field. It’s thirty below, perfectly calm and brilliantly sunny. You have your parka on but it’s partly open and the hood is thrown back. With no wind and the Sun shining, the walk out here has warmed you up. It’s good walking though; the snow has a good crust. Looking at it, you can see that it’s sparkling like mad.

Raising your eyes to the dark trees at the edge of the field, you become aware of glittering and twinkling in the air. Your eyes dart around, trying to catch the colorful flashes of light. You feel combined joy and disappointment, being there for such a magical display, but knowing it can’t be caught and held.

You hold out your arm and within seconds you catch your first flash of light on the dark fabric. Since the surface of your parka has cooled down enough, they don’t melt right away and they are able to accumulate. Soon you have a random scattering of sparkles that shift and change as you move your arm.

Now you look up and you can see that the sky above you is filled with points of light and color, brief flashes that make you hold your breath as you try to take it all in. You see why it’s called diamond dust, because it looks as if tiny diamonds are sifting down out of a clear blue sky. You just want to stand there all day, head thrown back, filling your eyes with this ephemeral beauty, while an occasional bit of glitter gets caught in your eyelashes.

Walking back home, the snow crunching under your boots, you know that this bright, beautiful clarity will become a cherished memory.

rjb

About arjaybe

Jim has fought forest fires and controlled traffic in the air and on the sea. Now he writes stories.
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2 Responses to Diamond Dust

  1. emmylgant says:

    Aahhh! Fabulous and wondrous. Pure beauty.
    Your description made me wishful. Once in N.Y. I could have sworn the air sparkled. But it was nothing like the video, much sparser, something at the edge of my vision… It was exhilarating.
    Thank you for sharing this phenomenal event.

    • arjaybe says:

      You’re welcome, and thank you. I’ve wanted to do this one for a while, but couldn’t find the right pictures. Had to paint them with words.
      That video was pretty good, though.

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