Today was a cold day here in the upper midwest where I reside. VERY cold. With windchill, the temp is currently sitting at -23 degrees. You have to be tough to live in this neck of the woods.
Whether it was due to snow and ice particles in the upper atmosphere or if it was just God’s way of giving us something to smile about as we froze our noses off, the sky above our chilly city was glowing with a giant rainbow halo around the sun.
(More photos at the bottom of this post)
According to EarthSky.com, such a ring around the sun or moon is known scientifically as a halo, often seen just prior to bad weather. Just before Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast, many people reported seeing a lovely halo around the moon.
These clouds contain millions of tiny ice crystals. The halos you see are caused by both refraction, or splitting of light, and also by reflection, or glints of light from these ice crystals. The crystals have to be oriented and positioned just so with respect to your eye, in order for the halo to appear.
That’s why, like rainbows, halos around the sun – or moon – are personal. Everyone sees their own particular halo, made by their own particular ice crystals, which are different from the ice crystals making the halo of the person standing next to you.
When the brightest part of the halo is on either side of the sun, the phenomena is known as “sun dogs”. In some of these photos, a case could be made that this is actually what we’re witnessing.
Whatever you call it, it certainly was a sight to behold. I’ve seen such a thing before, but never so big and bright. It seemed to take up the majority of the western part of the sky. I’m so glad that I managed to get a few photos to share.
Have you taken any photos of halos, sun dogs, or other natural phenomena in the sky? Send the photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and they might be featured here on E.I.!