Ask Todd: Solar halo

11:35 PM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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Cassina sent in a picture and asked: "What causes this ring and rainbow around the sun?"

Cassina took the picture Monday in Maryville.

The ring around the sun is a solar halo, or sometimes called a 22 degree halo.

Basically this happens when ice crystals form high up in cirrus clouds. They're just thin enough to where sunlight goes through the 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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