Weather Blog

A double sun halo like you've probably never seen before

A double sun halo like you've probably never seen before
Photo of Parhelic Circle by Dr. Dale Ireland

Dr. Dale Ireland seems to always find amazing feats of nature, and this weekend was no different.

While having a late lunch at a restaurant in Tacoma Saturday afternoon, he looked up and saw these incredible intersecting halos around the sun. (Update: Actually, it was his wife Suzanne who spotted the arc, he says. Dale just knew what it was.)

It's called a Parhelic Circle.

The circular halo around the sun itself is not too uncommon. Heck, we've seen this several times in the past week. That's just caused by ice crystals in the high, thin clouds reflecting sunlight like a prism.

The other arc is caused by crystals that are flatter in shape so they refract the light at a different angle.

Here is a video Dale captured of the event:

And here is his take on the event:

"It was interesting to watch because the Parhelic circle would disappear and reappear as a thin cirrus layer passed over but the 22 degree halo was visible the whole time. The two circles are formed by different shaped ice crystal.

"The 22 degree halo by hexagonal columns and the Parhelic by mostly plates according to the Atmospheric Optics site. I don't know which one was higher or colder but it was interesting to watch. Also the Parhelic circle doesn't have a fixed radius like most other features. It is centered on the zenith and passes through the Sun so it has a radius 90 minus the altitude of the Sun. So in the images the Sun is 56 degrees high making the Parhelic circle 68 degrees across.

"In the still image, there is also a Sundog. When the sun is low the sundog is closer to the 22 degree halo intersection point. That is what most of us are used to. As the sun altitude increases the dog moves away from the 22 degree halo. You can see it is quite a ways from the 22 halo."

And here are a few other shots of the sun halos from the weekend.

Sun halo with jet contral. By Denis Taft of Auburn, WA.

Ring Around the Sun at Pike Place, by YouNews contributor Colettedacat:

Ring around Sun, by YouNews contributor Wildmaven

Sun - Halo and Rainbow. By YouNews contributor super_dave