-----Super Sunset
FTLComm - Tisdale - September 24, 2000
Though we so often thoughtlessly accept the beauty around us as something that will undoubtedly reappear again and again, we are mistaken. The combination of conditions that produce some phenomena actually occur very rarely and with the remarkable short life span we have, these things may happen only a few times in our lifetime and only a few times will we be in position, or the right frame of mind to appreciate the occurrence

Just such an event happened Saturday evening as the sun set. The very high cloud became luminescent and filled more than half the sky with a tremendous red glow. Though you who read Ensign regularly have seen many red sunsets recorded here, this one was distinctly different, because of its size and scope.
Imagine my chagrin as I had dashed out to an open place to capture this event to share with you. I pointed the Epson PhotoPC 650 at the brilliant red sky and clicked the shutter. The camera recognised low ambient light and set off its flash and the low level of the batteries could not take the hit and that one image was all the camera was going to take, the batteries were dead. Here I am, staring at the most magnificent sunset I can recall and my camera is a useless lump of plastic. If I got back in the van and headed back to the house I could pick up another set of batteries, but by then the display would have moved onward to oblivious and the moment would be lost.

The decision I made was the right one. I had one picture and that would have to tell the story. No amount of cursing was
appropriate in such a moment of grace, the only thing to do  
was to enjoy, steep myself in this experience. Notice that everything about me, including my skin was aglow with the red light of the sky.

On my way over to this spot I had encountered a car full of people. Stopped motionless in the street everyone aboard transfixed with the brilliance of the red sky. I crept by them and no one turned their head to see me. They were like me, captured, under the spell of the great expanse of sky turned scarlet.

The peculiar combination of conditions that produced this phenomena involved a very strong Southwest wind which had been carrying warmer air across the prairies all afternoon and as that air slid up over top of the cold arctic air to the North and North East, the water vapour in the warm air was
sent upward, forming a slim flat reflective cloud high above  
the earth's surface that was now acting the the inverted surface of a vast ocean, reflecting the setting sun back at the planet's surface.

But if the camera had quit how then did I get these images? The top picture is the single image recorded by the digital camera. But tucked in between the Van's front seats sat my trusty Hitachi full size video camera ready to do its duty. With it and its powerful zoom lens I captured the silhouetted trees, a long shot of the distant horizon, a close up of the setting sun and with seven second bursts the images used to create a QuickTime VR 160 degree panorama that would give you a sense of the scene and let you see the cloud formation to the North responsible for having created these conditions.

On the right as the earth turned slowly away from the sun the sky darkened and the reds receded, yet every West facing
window flickered back the red ending to Saturday September 23.

For this and all our blessings may we be truly thankful.