Ring Around The Sun Today

Solar halo at 11 a.m. this morning — Bob King /News Tribune

Colder weather and new snow are on the way. Cirrostratus clouds often precede these storm fronts, and this morning they form a pale wash across Northland skies. If you look up right now, you might see a huge ring around the sun called a solar halo.

Billions of hexagonal ice crystals shaped like neatly cut up pencil pieces are wafting about in the cirrostratus. When sunlight strikes them, they bend or refract the light to form a circle 44 degrees across centered on the sun.

Sometimes other halo phenomena are visible, including the upper tangent arc curling over the top of the halo in the picture above. Often the inner edge of an ice halo is colored red and the outer blue. Recall that white light is a mixture of all the rainbow colors. The prism-like ice crystals bend the blue light more than the red so blue gets pushed to the outside of the halo.

Why not go out and see for yourself? It’s pretty cool and it’s happening right now.