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What’s A Sun Halo?

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What’s A Sun Halo?

Ever seen a ghostly rainbow halo around the Sun?

A Sun halo is caused by the refraction, reflection, and dispersion of light through ice particles suspended within thin, wispy, high altitude cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. As light passes through these hexagon-shaped ice crystals, it is bent at a 22° angle, creating a circular halo around the Sun. The prism effect of light passing through these six-sided ice crystals also separates the light into its various color frequencies, making the halo look like a very pale rainbow, with red on the inside and blue on the outside.

Folklore tells us Sun halos can predict the weather:

A ring around the Sun or Moon
means rain or snow is coming soon.


Occasionally, brighter areas will form along these halos, creating a mock Sun, or “sundog.” Sundogs are known as parhelia (or the singular parhelion) to astronomers, from the Greek words meaning “beside the Sun.”

Have you ever seen a sun halo, mock sun, or other interesting sights? Share in the comments below!


1 Susan Higgins { 06.15.19 at 10:09 am }

Wow, Sherry, thanks for sharing!

2 Sherry { 06.13.19 at 1:09 am }

There was a sun hall on 6/12/2019 about 25 miles south of Buffalo NY It was the most amazing thing I’ve seen in a long time. I didn’t even know what it was I looked it up on Google.

3 Amy Green { 05.14.19 at 8:32 pm }

Saw my first ever Sun halo today in Modesto, California.. It was so pretty!! There was a beautiful cloud rainbow too..

4 Linda Dougherty { 04.27.19 at 7:06 pm }

Saw one on 4/16/19 In Costa Maya.

5 Nish { 04.05.19 at 5:19 pm }

Saw a sun halo today in Nassau, The Bahamas. It was really facinating and there was also a rainbow seen around it about 30 feet from the halo itself….

6 When Opportunity Knocks – Sensitive Observer { 01.26.19 at 6:11 pm }

[…] outside, but I didn’t see the blimp – instead, I saw something much better – a sun halo! It was gorgeous and huge and a wonderful surprise! Sun halo’s don’t happen every day, […]

7 Michele Clough { 09.22.18 at 12:22 pm }

The first one I ever saw and was told what they were, was on a chilly Yacht Sail around Lake Tahoe in May… We see them occasionally here in Arizona.

8 Kirby Sirois { 02.20.15 at 6:24 pm }

I saw one of these driving home from work the other night and could not figure out what I was seeing…now I know! It was so awesome!

9 Russ { 01.07.15 at 10:53 am }

What does it mean if only a partial on north or south

10 TheMaineMan { 05.22.11 at 9:11 am }

That’s really cool, but Jaime is right NEVER look right at the sun without some serious eye protection.

11 Jaime McLeod { 05.09.11 at 3:13 pm }

Hi Brenda,
Sun halos are relatively common in all regions, though they do tend to happen more often on cool, crisp days (and, consequently, more often in colder regions). Because it is not advised (and can be painful) to look directly at the Sun, though, it can be hard to spot one, especially if you aren’t wearing sunglasses. In fact, I had to put on Sandi’s sunglasses to see this one. Looking without them was too blinding.

12 Brenda { 05.09.11 at 3:09 pm }

Yes, recently on two different occasions! The thing is I, nor anyone else i have talked to, Remembers having seen one before. Are these rare occurrences in Texas Gulf Coast area?

13 Carybear { 05.09.11 at 2:18 pm }

I have because I live in Nova Scotia. it’s not rare to see a sundog in January.

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