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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]
A sentimental science lesson

Tonight: full moon. Dead of winter. If you're not living somewhere with snow on the grass right now, you live somewhere with dew on the grass right now. (Or you’re in the Southern Hemisphere or tropics. :) Sorry pandora233) But for everyone else, it's the best time of year to see heiligenschein.

So here’s how this works, sometimes. The water is a lens – it bends the light that hits it, focuses it into a single spot on the leaf. If the drops are the right size, and the leaves the right shape, you get something like an inside-out galaxy, thousands of tiny stars scattered over stem and leaf and stone, faerie lights. The light bounces back up through the dew-lens again, straight back towards the moon, shimmer-focused.

If you got your head between moon and grass you could see it, a strange and secret sort of light. Except, of course, if you got your head between moon and grass, your shadow would fall onto the water-lenses and their hidden stars, so that no matter what you did, not man nor camera could see them.

But spheres aren’t perfect lenses, and some of the rays that pass through the thickest chords aren’t perfectly focused, and don’t point straight back at the moon. There’s backscatter, and some of the rays that almost point straight at the moon would reach your eyes instead. So what you’d actually see is an iridescent network of dots of light, in all the colors we have no names for, strung fey around the edges of your shadow like a halo. And only the being that casts your shadow can see it; anyone else is at the wrong angle, unless you stood close enough to put your arms around eachother, unless you with clasped hands less than a breath apart.

I would like to catch a heiligenschein on film someday. I saw one after concert rehearsal Thursday on the way to take cow to the airport, with lots of blue and silver and pale silk purple and a shimmergreen like sunlight seen from underwater.

Sometimes it seems the best things are all heiligenschein1, that we're all stumbling around in the moonlight, and that once in a rare while we get a glimpse of eachother's faerie-light, blue and silver and silk-purple and shimmergreen, the things that are impossible to see alone. Happy holidays (or lack thereof), oh my friends, and my thanks for your light another year. Sorry for the silly diagram. :)

[1] Er, does anyone know how to pluralize heiligenschein? It's german. I don't speak much german. I'd use a word in another language, if I knew of any. :)

Current Mood: happyinsipid


now i wanna go out and lie around in the cold snowy grass!

I am truly sorry I live where I do. *sigh*
But only for this very moment.
Faerie lights... My kingdom for faerie lights!