During the past year and a half I have tried to figure out how to build a Snowgun. Or, rather, an ice crystal gun since snow is not needed for creating halos. Hence, the objective has been to construct a “halo gun”.
After some unsuccesful experimenting I came up with an idea of mixing small amounts of kaoline with water and spraying the solution into air. Kaoline is low cost material mainly used in ceramic industry. The halo gun itself is a simple device: all is needed is an air compressor and a paint spray gun.
On 28 November the weather finally allowed for testing the device. When sprayed into air the solution immediately transformed into ice crystals. I followed the crystal swarm to a nearby road to see whether it created any halos. It certainly did. After the second spraying the halos got even better. I observed both 22 and 46 degree halo, CZA, UTA, M-arc, parhelia, and parhelic circle. The above photograph was captured during the peak of one halo gun generated display.
The halo gun even worked with hot water which prevented the nozzle from freezing. Without Kaoline I was not able to produce ice crystals, regardless of the temperature of the water. Clearly, kaoline plays a huge part in the nucleation process.
Thus far the highest temperature where I have successfully created haloes using this method has been as high as -2 degrees celsius. This ice nucleation temperature is significantly higher than what is cited for Kaolin in various sources in literature. Similar high-temperature ice nucleation characteristic is known for Pseudomonas syringae bacterial protein, which is commonly used to intensify snow production in snow guns.
In January we will go with a small group of people to Kilpisjarvi biological station in the northhernmost Finland to experiment more thoroughly with halo making.