A “local dawn” is my shorthand term for a dawn sky in which most of the clouds are nearby or overhead, rather than far away, over the horizon. As you can see, such local dawn displays can be lovely indeed.

Frankly, though, I’m partial to the “distant dawns,” which are often more dramatic. They are also more often seen in the cold months of November, December and January, when the sun rises in the southeast, at or near its lowest point in the sky.

The last dawn in the sequence, “Ominous” (at the top), fits neither description fully—it’s a little of both, a hybrid.

Although relatively near, “local” clouds are still high enough to catch the early rays of the sun before we earth-bound humans can see them.

When the rising sun first tops the distant horizon, its rays are nearly parallel—or more accurately, tangent—to the earth’s curved surface, thus hitting some clouds edgewise, producing the intense, illuminated colors we so often admire. The second dawn in the sequence, “Minimal,” demonstrates this effect.

All four photos were taken in October, 2014. All four look toward the east-southeast, almost directly across the pond from my window. Click an image to view it full screen, and click the back arrow to return. Cursor over each for a description.

Related: Cold Dawns 2013-14* (a post showing both local and distant dawns).

 

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