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EarthSky // Today's Image Release Date: May 15, 2013

Sun halo over U.S. East Coast yesterday

A ring or circle of light around the sun or moon is called a halo by scientists. They’re a sign of high thin cirrus clouds drifting above our heads.

View larger. | Halo around the sun seen over New Jersey by EarthSky Facebook friend Jay Herbst.  Thank you, Jay!

View larger. | Halo around the sun seen over New Jersey by EarthSky Facebook friend Jay Herbst. Thank you, Jay! See Jay’s website here.

On EarthSky’s Facebook page yesterday afternoon (May 14, 2013), we received many, many photos from U.S. East coast residents (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) showing a beautiful halo around the sun. Did you see it? The photo above is from Jay Herbst. The next two below are from John Zenkus. The final photo on this page is from Steve Scanlon. But there were lots more on our Facebook page; if they haven’t moved too far down the page yet, you might still see some there by clicking Recent Posts by Others.

It’s fun to imagine how many might have seen this beautiful sky event over such a populous part of the world.

Many asked if the halo seen around the sun on May 14 was in some way related to the three X-flares on the sun this week. The answer is no. Halos around the sun and moon are weather phenomena. They happen in the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere. They’re caused by the presence of high cirrus clouds above your head. What makes a halo around the sun or moon? Read more here.

Solar halo over Union Square in New York City on May 14, 2013.  Photograph by John Zenkus.  Thank you, John!   See below for the reaction of the crowd.

Solar halo over Union Square in New York City on May 14, 2013. Photograph by John Zenkus. See below for the reaction of the crowd.

People in Union Square in New York City on May 14, 2013 looking up at the solar halo.  Photograph by John Zenkus.  Thank you, John!

People in Union Square in New York City on May 14, 2013 looking up at the solar halo. Photograph by John Zenkus. Thank you, John!

View larger. | Another beautiful shot of yesterday's solar halo, also over New Jersey, from our friend Steve Scanlon Photography.  Thank you, Steve.  See Steve's work on Facebook.

View larger. | Another beautiful shot of yesterday’s solar halo, also over New Jersey, from our friend Steve Scanlon Photography. Thank you, Steve. See Steve’s work on Facebook.

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