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September-October 2013

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From the Editor

It is that time of year again—the time when readers and weather enthusiasts from across the globe submit photos to the annual Weatherwise Photo Contest, and our judges are tasked with picking the best, the most beautiful, the most spectacular, and the most unusual photographs of the entries. This year, it was all about clouds—shelf clouds, fog, mammatus, undulatus asperatus, anvil clouds, funnel clouds, and fall streaks. Many of our winners this year exemplify the best of these types of clouds, and some of the other winning photos show us more of the spectacular work that mother nature puts on display in the sky and on the ground. As always, our judges were faced with many tough decisions, but in the end, they were able to find the winning entries, and we think you'll agree that they are pretty amazing. Thank you as always to everyone who entered this year's contest, and congratulations to the winners! And of course keep that camera handy for next year's contest!

Following the theme of spectacular photography, “Windows Into Other Worlds” by Ed Darack features some spectacular artwork by the author. The article takes a look at the vital role that climate and weather play in our knowledge of astronomy. In particular, the locales of the world's major observatories have a characteristic climate caused by a nearby cold ocean current, which produces a dry climate, and a persistent, strong thermal inversion at the coast, which suppresses turbulence. These particular conditions provide optimal viewing opportunities for astronomers seeking to learn more about the stars above us.

Finally, in the spirit of the fall season and Halloween, we have an article in this issue that celebrates a ghostly phenomenon that in fact has its basis in weather. In “A Wee Bit o' Ghost Light,” Elinor DeWire traces the origins of the term “jack-o-lantern,” and finds that it actually derives from an atmospheric phenomenon of mysterious lights twinkling out in the distance. Our forefathers thought these lights to be the work of sprites or evil spirits, but we now know that weather conditions are actually to blame!

I hope you enjoy this issue of Weatherwise. As always, we welcome feedback and any early entries to next year's Photo Contest!

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