Halo Triplet

While walking to lunch today, I spied a fragment of halo above the sun. (Whenever I notice a really thin layer of cirrus clouds, I always try to find an opportunity to block the sun and look for halos.) I tried to get a couple of shots with my phone, and figured I’d try enhancing them when I got home.

What surprised me is that the halo was not only still there after lunch, but clearer. On the way back, I stopped in several places with a building, or a sign, or a tree blocking the sun. The curve seemed too shallow to be a standard circular halo, so I wondered what I was actually seeing. Then I realized there was a faint halo inside the brighter curve, the two fragments meeting above the sun and splitting like diverging roads.

Then I noticed the sundog.

Halo Triplet

Three distinct sun halos. Not complete, and far from the clearest display I’ve seen, but certainly the most complex.

The brightest part appears to be the top of a circumscribed halo, which varies in shape from oval to kidney-bean depending on how high the sun is. You can just see the 22° circular halo branching off below it. Off to the right is a sundog.

It’s too bad I only had the phone, but it did manage to catch all three halos. I fiddled with the contrast a little to make them clearer, but they are visible without it.

And to think I saw this from the middle of suburban Southern California!

3 thoughts on “Halo Triplet

  1. Review Unit

    That HALO more looks like a rainbow…but have to say….SUNDOG is quite clear…amazed by the shot as it comes from a cell phone…nice shot

    Reply
  2. Kelson Post author

    It’s definitely not a rainbow: it’s in the same direction as the sun, it’s too high, and the color order is reversed. (And there was no rain.) Plus it’s in exactly the spot you’d expect to see the top of a circular halo or tangent arc.

    Check out the links in my post. The various kinds of halos that ice crystals can produce are fascinating.

    Reply
  3. Jason S.

    I don’t think the Halo looks anything like a rainbow…this is one hell of a picture though for a cell phone – 2 mega pixels?

    Reply

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