Saturday, February 4, 2012

Moon Halos: Heavenly Circlets

Because the full moon is just less than one week away, the moon is in prime condition: ripe for halos to result! What is a lunar halo? A halo, by definition, is an optical phenomena occurring when ice crystals (or cirrus clouds) refract light around an especially bright object, hence making a 'halo' around it. Usually before a full moon, the moon is positioned just in a way to the sun that a halo could be produced, although most common are produced as the result of cirrus clouds in the upper atmosphere.

The ween before the full moon is the best time to spot moon halos (if weather conditions are superb), becasue the moon rises at a reasonable time, meaning, by the time the moon has reached the zenith, it's now 6-9 pm, which means right before the full moon. There is a menagerie of pictures below courtesy of Enjoy the views, and make sure you look for the moon halos!

The above photograph was taken from Moray, Scotland by amateur astronomer Alan C. Tough. "I intended to photograph the Moon beside the Pleiades, but the cold and cloudy conditions were better suited to capturing this spectacular halo!"

 The above picture was taken by Jim Henderson: at Kincardine O'Neil north of River Dee, Aboyne Aberdeenshire, Scotland. "Frosty evening over Royal Deeside in Scotland and strong moon halo from half moon looking west of south with Orion Belt to left and convenient aeroplane heading northwards probably landing at Aberdeen Airport some 25 miles to East. ..."

"The moon can produce interesting optical effects when conditions are right. The most common of which are moon rings, moon bows, which are similar to rainbows, moon dogs and moon pillars. A rainbow is produced when sunlight is refracted through water droplets - A similar effect is produced when moon light refracts through ice crystals. Below are a few photographs and examples about this interesting phenomena. Thanks to everyone that helped me put together this simple explanation of moon light effects" [from Special Moon Effects. Read more at this link - it's pretty interesting!]

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your comments. "I am still learning about these phenominal asctronomical events, ... So when my mom opens up the front door and yells at me to come look at the moon, I "complain, not knowing the wonder I was about to see. As I stepped outside and looked at the sky I noticed a large halo of stars? radiation from the sun? or as my best friend would tell me, "IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD!" Naturally I picked not option 3 of course. Anyway ,I ran back inside to, obviously, look up this phenomenon online. The first article I read was written by a man who spent 10000 pounds on an observatory in his backyard. The only the word that caught my eye was the word refracting, so I thought it would be like a moonbow. I wasn't far off."