Summer Lunar Halo

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Image Credit & Copyright: Me.

Earlier this week while doing some lunar and star observing (Which is about all you can do during a gibbous phase Moon.) and around midnight I decided to wrap it up early and noticed that some Cirrostratus clouds had moved in, creating a beautiful 22 degree lunar halo as seen in the images. In the image you can see a hint of iridescence, almost creating a rainbow effect. That couldn’t be seen with the eye but a camera sensor can capture those fine details that we’d otherwise miss.

Cirrostratus clouds are high, thin, uniform clouds that reside above 20,000 ft. and that height means that they’re mainly composed of tiny ice crystals. When the Moon shines its reflected sunlight through the clouds, those ice crystals refract the night in a manner that creates the halos we see.

The Sun can create this phenomenon on its own as well and we simply call those solar halos. Lunar and solar halos can get much more complicated and beautiful than what we see here. This is a 22 degree halo but there are also 44 degree halos, 360 degree halos, moon (sun) dogs etc. and each one is just breathtaking to witness first hand.

I hope you like this image and if you have questions; as always, ask away!

Dan

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