Agenda for 2013 Meeting

(updated 26 Aug 2013 – final agenda)

Light and Color in Nature, 5–8 August 2013 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Monday, 5 August

Session 1: Introduction, 0900-1030, Kenneth Sassen Chair 

Welcome by Robert McCoy, Director of the Geophysical Institute

Opening Remarks by Kenneth Sassen, Committee Chair

0930 Invited: Atmospheric optics at the early Geophysical Institute, Glenn Shaw

1000 Keynote: Noctilucent clouds – ice clouds at the edge of space in the polar summer, Richard Collins

Coffee break (continued registration), 1030-1100

Session 2: Historical Optics, 1100-1200, Joseph Shaw Chair 

1100: 2.1 The 1665 orange halo of Huygens’s father, Gunther Konnen

1120: 2.2 The 35 minute green flash observed at Little America on 16 Oct 1929: a retrospective study, James Lock

1140: 2.3 The Nuremburg halo display of April 19, 1630, Eva Seidenfaden

Lunch (at the Geophysical Institute Globe Room), 1200-1300

1300 Invited: Cloud Forms, Stanley Gedzelman

Session 3: Scattering Interference Phenomena, 1330-1430, Stan Gedzelman Chair 

1330: 3.1 Revisiting the corona, Philip Laven

1400: 3.2 The heiligenschein, John Adam and Philip Laven

Coffee Break, 1430-1500

Session 4: Ocean Color/Optics, 1500- 1640, Philip Laven Chair 

1500: 4.1 Colors of thermal pools in Yellowstone National Park, Paul Nugent, Joseph Shaw and Michael Vollmer

1520: 4.2 Caustics due to complex water menisci, Charles Adler and James Lock

1540: 4.3 Improvement of remotely sensed Kd (PAR) of shallow turbid water in the Yellow Sea, Bumjun Kil and Stephan Howden

Public Optics Demonstration, 1730-1900, Kenneth Sassen Chair 

Halomator and spectrodrom – a basement laboratory of atmospheric optics, by Michael Grossmann, Alexander Haussmann, and Elmar Schmidt

Conference Reception at the Museum of the North (light dinner), 1930-2100

Tuesday, 6 August

Registration, 0800-0900

Session 5: Ice Crystal Halos/Arcs, 0900-1030, Michael Vollmer Chair

0900: 5.1 Invited: “Lowitz Arcs Revisited”, Robert Greenler, Les Cowley, and Robert Gorkin

0930: 5.2 Halos due to scattering by randomly oriented crystals, Gunther Konnen

0950: 5.3 Brightness profile of the 22 degree halo, Dave Lynch

1010: 5.4 Pyramidal halo phenomenon in Virginia June 21st, 2010, Elmar Schmidt, T. Alan Clark, A. Haussmann, and Claudia Hinz

Coffee break, 1030-1100

Session 5 continued: Ice Crystal Halos/Arcs, 1100 -1200, Michael Vollmer Chair 

1100: 5.5 Streetlight halos, Walter Tape

1120: 5.6 Parry’s arc from nearby light sources in Deadhorse, Alaska, Kenneth Sassen and Colin Triplett

1140: 5.7 Halo simulation progress report, Stanley Gedzelman

Lunch (at the Geophysical Institute Globe Room), 1200-1300

Session 5 continued: Ice Crystal Halos/Arcs, 1300-1350, Michael Vollmer Chair 

1300: 5.8 Laboratory Demonstration, Position-related spectra within experimental parhelia: Simple hands-on experiments explaining the perceived color of sun dogs, K.-P. Mollmann and M. Vollmer

1330: 5.9 Brilliant colors from a white snow cover, Michael Vollmer and Joseph Shaw

Session 6: General Observations, 1350-1430, Gunther Konnen Chair 

1350: 6.1 Unusual optical phenomena from mountain sites, Claudia Hinz

1410: 6.2 Establishment of the global meteopark system, Lai Bixing

Coffee Break, 1430-1500

Session 7 Biological Colors: 1530-1640, Robert Greenler Chair 

1500: 7.1 On the purpose of color for living beings: a new theory of color organization, Katia Deiana and Baingio Pinna

1520: 7.2 How can a fish hide in the open ocean?, Robert Greenler

1540: 7.3 Iridescent colors in spider webs, H. Joachim Schlichting

1600: 7.4 Structural color of the butterfly wing scale, S. Yoshioka

1620: 7.5 Total internal reflection as solar protection for the Saharan desert ant Cataglyphis bombycina, Priscilla Simonis and Jean Pol Vigneron

Session 8 Mirages: 1640-1700, Robert Greenler Chair 

1640: 8.1 Visible and invisible mirages: comparing inferior mirages in the visible and thermal infrared spectral range, Michael Vollmer, Joseph Shaw, Paul Nugent

Riverboat Discovery Chena River Excursion and Dinner, 1900-2200

Wednesday, 7 August

Session 9: Rainbows: 0900-1030, Walter Tape Chair 

0900: 9.1 Invited: The natural tertiary rainbow- A photographic first, M. Grossmann

0930: 9.2 Photographic observation of a natural fifth-order rainbow, Harald Edens

0950: 9.3 Polarization and visibility of higher order rainbows, Gunther Konnen

1010: 9.4 Recent rainbow revelations, Robert Greenler

Coffee break, 1030-1100

Session 9 continued: Rainbows, 1100-1200, Walter Tape Chair 

1100: 9.5 New insights into the rainbow, Part 1, Jean Louis Ricard, Peter Adams, and Jean Barckicke

1120: 9.6 New insights into the rainbow, Part 2, Jean Louis Ricard, Peter Adams, and Jean Barckicke

1140: 9.7 Observation, photogrammetry, and analysis of a twinned rainbow, Alexander Haussmann

Lunch (at the Geophysical Institute Globe Room), 1200-1300

Session 9 continued: Rainbows, 1300-1430, David Lynch Chair 

1300: 9.8 A physically based rainbow simulator taking the background into consideration, Moon R. Jung

1320: 9.9 Influence of non-spherical raindrop shapes on higher order rainbows, Alexander Haussmann

1340: 9.10 Flashes of light below the dripping faucet: an optical signal from capillary oscillations of water drops, Thomas Timusk

1400: 9.11 Digital Imagery Forum, A post-Faustian review of digital imagery: the good, the bad, and the weird, Dave Lynch, Leader

Coffee Break, 1430-1500

Session 10: Atmospheric Color and Polarization, 1500-1720, Raymond Lee Chair 

1500: 10.1 Seeing, adapting to, and reproducing the appearance of nature, Mark Fairchild

1520: 10.2 What is the spectrum of skylight polarization? Joseph Shaw and Nathan Pust

1540: 10.3 Measuring haze’s effects on the colors and visible-wavelength spectra of clear skies, Raymond Lee

1600: 10.4 Views affected by a wavy air-water surface, Yoav Y. Schechner

1620: 10.5 Simulating dark sunlit clouds, Stanley Gedzelman

1640: 10.6 Shadows, Dave Lynch

The Light & Color Official Slide Show (“pretty picture session”), 1715 to whenever

Thursday, 8 August

Session 11: Astronomical Optics, 0900-1030, Charles Adler Chair 

0900: 11.1 Invited: Twilight’s Belt of Venus, by Raymond Lee

0930: 11.2 Visibility of Sirius in broad daylight, Gunther Konnen and Piet Stammes

0950: 11.3 Some elementary but surprising facts about the sun’s location in the sky, A. James Mallmann and Steven P. Mayer

1010: 11.4 Earthshine brightness and visibility, David Lynch

Coffee break, 1030-1100

Session 11 continued: Astronomical Optics, 1100-1200, Kenneth Sassen Chair 

1100: 11.5 The use of light and color in astrophysical imaging, Travis A. Rector, Zoltan Levay, Lisa Frattare, Jayanne Engllish, and Kirk Pu-uohau-Pummill

1120: 11.6 Lunar eclipse photometry across the world – first correlations, Elmar Schmidt

1140: 11.7 Using light and color to detect life on Earth-like extra-solar planets, Eyal Schwartz, Stephen G. Lipson, and Erez N. Ribak

Concluding Remarks and Challenge, by Kenneth Sassen

Conference Concludes: 1215

Afternoon Tour of Chatanika gold mining area (lunch) and UAF Poker Flat Rocket Range


2013 Call for Papers

Conference on “Light and Color in Nature”

August 5-8, 2013

Fairbanks, Alaska

Call for Papers

An International Conference on “Light and Color in Nature” will be held on August 5-8 at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska. The organizing committee is soliciting abstracts for talks at the conference. The topics addressed at the meeting include, but are not limited to, the following: rainbows; ice crystal halos; glories; coronas; iridescence; sky color;

Headlight coronae

Headlight coronas (J. Shaw photo)

atmospheric visibility; refraction effects; contrast phenomena; noctilucent clouds; optics of lightning; auroras; colors created by absorption and scattering in water and air; color and light in water and on water surfaces; iridescence and colors in biology and geology; atmospheric optics in history and archaeology; and computational techniques for calculating and rendering optical effects in the atmosphere and landscape.

For submission: please submit a 200-word abstract that includes title and author list (you also may include a color or gray-scale image that illustrates your topic). File formats accepted are plain text, pdf, doc, and docx. All accepted abstracts will be given as oral presentations. Abstracts may be submitted via email to The deadline for abstract submission is Monday, April 15, 2013. The committee will review all abstracts and notify authors of acceptance by May.

Click here for registration … including options for submitting abstracts (if you , requesting travel assistance and/or reduced student registration rate).


This will be the 11th in a series of Conferences held over the past 35 years:

1) “Meteorological Optics”, August 28-29, 1978, Keystone, Colorado

2) “Atmospheric Optics”, January 3-5, 1983, Incline Village, Nevada

3) “Meteorological Optics”, April 2-3, 1986, Honolulu, Hawaii

4) “Light & Color in the Open Air”, July 11-13, 1990, Washington, D.C.

5) “Light & Color in the Open Air”, June 16-18, 1993, State College, Pennsylvania

6) “Light & Color in the Open Air”, February 10-12, 1997, Santa Fe, New Mexico

7) “Meteorological Optics”, June 6-8, 2001, Boulder, Colorado

8) “Atmospheric/Meteorological Optics”, June 13-17, 2004, Bad Honnef, Germany

9) “Light & Color in Nature”, June 25-29, 2007, Bozeman, Montana

10) “Light & Color in Nature”, June 16-20, 2010, St. Mary’s City, Maryland

Applied Optics Feature Issue

Following each of the previous meetings, the Optical Society of America (OSA) has generously published a Feature Issue of one of its peer-reviewed journals. These Feature Issues draw heavily (but not exclusively) on contributions made at these meetings.

Journal of Optical Society of America, Vol. 69, No. 8 (August 1979)

Journal of Optical Society of America, Vol. 73, No. 12 (December 1983)

Journal of Optical Society of America A, Vol. 4, No. 3 (March 1987)

Applied Optics, Vol. 30, No. 24 (August 1991)

Applied Optics, Vol. 33, No. 21 (July 1994)

Applied Optics, Vol. 37, No. 9 (March 1998)

Applied Optics, Vol. 42, No. 3 (January 2003)

Applied Optics, Vol. 44, No. 27 (September 2005)

Applied Optics, Vol. 47, No. 34 (December 2008)

Applied Optics, Vol. 50, No. 28 (October 2011)

In line with this tradition, a Feature Issue of Applied Optics will be published during 2014.

Practical information

A dedicated web-site ( will be updated regularly to provide the latest information about the conference (e.g. accommodation, venue, schedule, etc.).

Halo Bibliography Extended to Celestial Light Sources

At this 2010 meeting of The Color and Light in Nature Conference Rainer Schmidt introduced a comprehensive bibliography of halo observations, particularly those reported before the internet age. As of earlier this month there were 9719 entries in this invaluable resource. You can find out more about that project by reading the English description he presented at the conference.

Recently Rainer has announced a new section/service of the website which extracts and goes into greater depth, with quotations and comments, those entries of the bibliography pertaining to halos generated by celestial light sources. Due to the difficulty in observing these phenomena, there are few documented sightings listed so far. Your submissions for entries missed in the bibliography are desired, see the contact information listed on the website.

The Optics of Life: A Biologist’s Guide to Light in Nature

Sönke Johnsen, a long time member of our group and associate professor of biology at Duke University, has recently published an accessible, humorous, and practical introduction to understanding and measuring light. Officially aimed at biologists, it would be useful to anyone who wants a less mathematical and more intuitive introduction to the field additional resources. It also has a distinctly phenomenological bent and some nice photos. Here is the official blurb:

Optics–a field of physics focusing on the study of light–is also central to many areas of biology, including vision, ecology, botany, animal behavior, neurobiology, and molecular biology. The Optics of Life introduces the fundamentals of optics to biologists and nonphysicists, giving them the tools they need to successfully incorporate optical measurements and principles into their research. Sönke Johnsen starts with the basics, describing the properties of light and the units and geometry of measurement. He then explores how light is created and propagates and how it interacts with matter, covering topics such as absorption, scattering, fluorescence, and polarization. Johnsen also provides a tutorial on how to measure light as well as an informative discussion of quantum mechanics.

The Optics of Life features a host of examples drawn from nature and everyday life, and several appendixes that offer further practical guidance for researchers. This concise book uses a minimum of equations and jargon, explaining the basic physics of light in a succinct and lively manner. It is the essential primer for working biologists and for anyone seeking an accessible introduction to optics.

The book is now available in both hardcover and paperback and is published by Princeton University Press.

Publisher’s Information Page
Chapter 1 [PDF]
Amazon Link

Continuing press for triple and quadruple rainbows

The media attention continues for the recently published triple and quadruple rainbows… this time in “The Times” of London.

Weather Eye: the triple and quadruple rainbows
Paul Simons
October 13 2011 12:01AM 

A rainbow is a wonderful sight, and a double rainbow even more so. But a German photographer has taken rainbows to a new dimension — he has captured both triple and quadruple rainbows.

On June 11 Michael Theusner was watching a thunderstorm approach his home town of Schiffdorf, near Bremerhaven in northern Germany. “I went to a field road by car to take some photos of the storm clouds. Just after I had arrived, about 6pm, heavy rain started . . . I waited and hoped that the Sun would come out soon and produce some nice rainbows. When it did, I realised that the dark clouds covered the sky to the right of the Sun.” And those dark clouds beside the Sun gave exactly the right backdrop to catch the elusive third and fourth rainbows, later revealed with sophisticated photo processing and which can be seen at

According to the Optical Society in the US, there have been only five scientific reports of triple rainbows in 250 years, and none of the quadruple bow. In fact, some scientists said that both types of rainbows were a myth. It is easy to see why they remained so elusive because primary and secondary rainbows are easy to see as they light up the sky away from the Sun. But tertiary and quadruple rainbows form close to the Sun, where the intense glare of the Sun makes them extremely difficult and dangerous to see. They only start to become apparent against a dark background of thunderclouds with a heavy downpour, or a shower of nearly uniformly sized raindrops. Even then, a filter is needed to cut out the Sun’s glare and photo processing needed afterwards because the bows are very faint.

Although very rare, the extra rainbows are created in just the same way as normal rainbows, by sunlight refracting and reflecting inside raindrops before beaming out into an arc . A triple rainbow forms when the light rays are reflected three times inside the raindrops, and a quadruple bow has four internal reflections, although its colours are reversed and the bow is even fainter.

News story about historic halo diagram

There have been several nice news articles about a historic halo diagram described by Eva Seidenfaden in the 1 Oct. 2011 Applied Optics feature issue on light and color in the open air.

Eva’s paper:

News stories:

Strong media attention about 3rd-order and 4th-order rainbows

There has been fabulous attention paid by the news media to the photographs of 3rd-order and 4th-order rainbows published in the 1 Oct. 2011 Applied Optics feature issue on light and color in the open air.

OSA Press Release:

A selected list of some resulting news stories:

Feature Journal Issues

One of the primary products of each light and color meeting is a collection of papers published in a feature issue of a peer-reviewed optics journal. Here is a full list of the issues that have been published. The URLs will take you to the online record of each journal (full access to pdf copies of the papers is available to journal subscribers). Philip Laven has provided a great web list that includes links to many of the feature issue papers on the authors’ web pages.

J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69(8), 1051–1198 (1 Aug. 1979)

J. Opt. Soc. Am. 73(12), 1622–1664 (1 Dec. 1983)

J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 4(3), 558–620 (1 March 1987)

Appl. Opt. 30(24), 3381–3552 (20 Aug. 1991)

Appl. Opt. 33(21), 4535–4760 (20 July 1994)

Appl. Opt. 37(9), 1425–1588 (20 March 1998)

Appl. Opt. 42(3), 307–525 (20 Jan. 2003)

Appl. Opt. 44(27), 5623–5762 (20 Sep. 2005)

Appl. Opt. 47(34), H1–H224 (1 Dec. 2008)

Appl. Opt. 50(28), LC1-LC2, F1–F171 (1 Oct. 2011)

Appl. Opt. 54(4), LC1-LC2, B1-B265 (1 Feb. 2015)