Four natural phenomena in a year


Ryan King

Yosemite Firefall in Yosemite Valley, California on February 12. Photo by: Ryan King

The Yosemite Firefall, Total Solar Eclipse, Keyhole Arch “Light Show,” and the Super Blue Blood Moon: These are the naturally occurring phenomena that could have been seen in the United States in the past year.

In Yosemite Valley, California, on a clear afternoon in mid-February, it is possible for the thin strand of Horsetail Fall -pouring off the western side of El Capitan- to illuminate, becoming lava-like. This illumination is from the vibrant February sunset rays and the perfect angle of the waterfall pouring off the high rock formation,  turning the strand of water an orange-red color that looks very much like lava flowing. 

The upper right part of the scene is the Sun coming back to visibility. Photo by: Ryan King

There were photographers and visitors that had been trying to see this magical phenomenon for quite a few years in the past and were unsuccessful due to weather conditions. However, in February of 2017, the Yosemite Firefall flowed a few times during the clear-sky sunsets.

The most spectacular of all the phenomena, the total solar eclipse, went right across the continental U.S. on August 21. This phenomenon occurs when the moon perfectly passes over the sun and completely covers it, creating a ring of vibrant white light exploding from a black circle, where the 

moon covers the sun. Once the moon completely covers the sun, the surrounding landscape and sky goes dark in mid-day for about two minutes depending on location; Then a 360 degree sunrise appears on the horizon.

Partial solar eclipse taken from Mackay, Idaho on August 21. Photo by: Ryan King

Seeing a single burst of white light lingering in the middle of the sky while the rest is consumed by a blue-gray darkness takes the mind and body on a trip, making one feel suddenly smaller and insignificant compared to everything else in the galaxy.

At an angle, the sunlight rays are very visible as they pass through the hole of the arch. Photo by: Ryan King

The sight is unbelievable and will be engraved in people’s memory forever, as there is nothing quite like it. The next total solar eclipse that will take place in a section of the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024.

In Big Sur, California, during clear-sky sunsets around the Winter Solstice on December 20, Keyhole Arch on Pfeiffer Beach becomes perfectly aligned with the sun. The sun’s rays shine brightly through the hole in the arch, exhibiting a rare golden “light show.”
This photo was taken of the super blood moon from San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura, California at 5:30 a.m. Photo by: Ryan King

On January 31, a lunar trifecta, the combination of a blue moon, a supermoon, and a total lunar eclipse or blood moon, took place in the majority of the world. This lunar trifecta happens when earth casts a shadow on the moon from the sun’s light. This combination and visibility of these cosmic events have not lined up together on the same day in the western hemisphere for 152 years. It has been 35 years since a blue moon has been in sync with a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse.

These four naturally occurring phenomena, all driven by either the sun or the moon, are quite possibly once-in-a-lifetime experiences. These are all absolutely spectacular and there are many other phenomena all around the world, like the aurora borealis that are visible to the naked-eye and a camera.

If one ever has chance to see any natural phenomena, it’s highly recommended they go out and experience it for themselves.