A spe­cial ‘halo’ from my friend

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WEATHER - Michael Boschat spends a lot of time look­ing up and takes some amaz­ing pho­tos. He snapped this pic­ture in Hal­i­fax, just be­fore 8 p.m. Sun­day. Cindy Day is SaltWire Network’s Chief Me­te­o­rol­o­gist.

Is it silly for me to re­fer to you as friends? I don’t think so. I feel that you’re al­ways there for me… send­ing in great pho­tos, in­ter­est­ing ques­tions and awe­some ob­ser­va­tions.

Over the years, I have had the plea­sure of meet­ing many of you. About 10 years ago, I had the good for­tune of in­ter­view­ing Michael Boschat. Michael has been a long-time con­trib­u­tor of awe­some ce­les­tial pho­tos. He’s a mem­ber of the Royal As­tro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety of Canada, here in Hal­i­fax.

Sun­day evening, Michael was out on a roof some­where – one of his favourite places to be – when he cap­tured this amaz­ing photo. It’s a so­lar halo, but if you look closely, you’ll see that there is more than one halo. That’s quite rare!

A sin­gu­lar com­mon halo, or ring around the sun, is a 22-de­gree halo. It forms when the sun­light is re­fracted through mil­lions of ran­domly-ori­ented hexag­o­nal ice crys­tals in the at­mos­phere. Sci­en­tif­i­cally, ha­los are called “22 De­gree Ha­los” be­cause the two re­frac­tions bend the light by 22 de­grees from its orig­i­nal di­rec­tion.

Some­times, these ice crys­tals are not hexag­o­nal but are shaped more like pyra­mids. Pyra­mi­dal crys­tals have unique end faces that look like tiny sixsided pyra­mids. In con­trast to ordinary prism crys­tals where the an­gles be­tween faces are ei­ther 60 or 90 de­grees, the an­gles be­tween pyra­mi­dal crys­tal faces can also be 28, 52.4, 56, 62, 63.8 and 80.2 de­grees. Each in­cli­na­tion forms a sep­a­rate cir­cu­lar halo.

The next time you see a lovely ring around the sun, look closely – there could be more there than meets the eye.

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