Halo of light crowns Antarctica | Science News

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Halo of light crowns Antarctica

Ice crystals bend sun’s rays into ring

By
7:00am, January 4, 2016
ring in sky over Antarctica

ICE IN THE SKY  Ice crystals in the air bend sunlight into a ring over a research base in eastern Antarctica.  

In the sky above eastern Antarctica, airborne ice crystals sculpt the sun’s rays into a ring.  

This phenomenon, called a 22-degree halo, is the result of sunlight passing through tiny, six-sided ice cylinders in high-altitude clouds. The crystals act like prisms, bending incoming light 22 degrees off course. Millions of crystals at various orientations can cast a full circle of light around the sun. While dramatic over polar regions, these halos can occur worldwide, even at the equator. Some halos are decorated with bright spots known as sun dogs or mock suns.

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