Sun halo captures region’s attention

What was with that ring around the sun on Wednesday?

Photo courtesy Tanis Marie

Residents and visitors of our region were treated to a strange, but beautiful, natural phenomenon on Wednesday.

The sun halo, according to EarthSky.org, a website devoted to what’s happening overhead, is both the refraction and reflection of light from the sun in high-altitude cirrus clouds, 20,000 feet or more above the Earth, which is why it generally seems like a clear day when they occur.

“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.”

Sometimes called a 22-degree halo because the ring around the sun is approximately 22-degrees around the body causing the ring – which could also be the moon.

Interesting factoid: Everyone viewing the halo sees their own. Because the ring is being caused by the refraction and reflection of light through the ice particles in the atmosphere, it’s refracted and reflected a little differently, even to the person standing right next to you.

 

Photo courtesy Bonnie Howich

Photo courtesy Lori Lewis

Photo courtesy Ryan Dawson