A sun halo, sundogs and more

Halos around the sun or moon aren’t uncommon, but this is a really special one. Thanks to Martin Male, who captured it from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.

Martin Male of the city of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, Canada, captured this amazing photo on September 4, 2018. He wrote:

That was one awesome sun dog and sun halo all in one. In addition there was a ring around the top of the sky. Thanks to Eugene for sending me a text letting me know that it was out there.

For those who are interested: These are all standard ice halos and arcs, a pretty awesome display of light. From top to bottom, you can see: an upper tangent arc (above the halo), parhelic circle (horizontal arc through the sundogs), a 22 degree halo, sundogs (parhelia), and finally, infralateral arcs on both sides that look like rainbows. :) Depending on the position of the sun and the shape/size/quantity of the ice crystals, you can get even more or different arcs and halos.

Martin clearly knows a lot about sky optics! The chart below – from the great website Atmospheric Optics – labels the parts of a scene like the one Martin captured.

Sky optics expert Les Cowley of the website Atmospheric Optics has this image on his frequent halos page. It shows you some of the features in Martin’s photo at the top of this page. Pictured at the far right of this illustration are various kinds of ice crystals, which are what cause halos and related phenomena.

Bottom line: Beautiful photo of a sun halo and related sky phenomena, September 4, 2018, Yellowknife, Canada.

Deborah Byrd