Ask Todd: Solar halos

12:09 AM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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Jerry Haehn asks: "What is this called and what causes this?" in reference to a photo he submitted.

Great question James! It's a solar halo, or sometimes called a 22 degrees halo.

Basically it happens when ice crystals form high up in cirrus clouds. They're just thin enough to where sunlight goes through the ice crystals and just like a prism, it refracts light through it. That means down here on the ground, if we're at the right angle, we get to see that rainbow or halo around it.

Usually, if you look inside the rainbow, you'll see what looks like smaller balls of light. Those are known as sun dogs.

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