Some people were perplexed when they gazed up at the sky in the Comox Valley Wednesday morning and saw a circular halo around the sun.
But it wasn’t aliens. It was a 22-degree halo.
The halos form when light from the sun or the moon is refracted through ice crystals in cirrostratus clouds within the earth’s atmosphere.
The 22° halo, which is a ring of light 22 degrees from the sun or moon, is the most common type of halo that is seen and is formed by hexagonal ice crystals with diameters less than 20.5 micrometres, according to the University of Illinois.
The oval ring that circumscribes the circular 22° halo, is called a circumscribed halo. When the sun or moon rises above 70° it will cover the 22° halo.
The phenomenon has been seen around the world and is not limited to certain seasons. But NASA said the good displays are more common in the fall, winter and spring when the northern jet stream descends south, drawing down Arctic air masses.
Sun dogs, which are bright spots that appear on either side of the sun, often show up as part of a 22° halo. Sun dogs are more common in the winter when ice crystals can form lower in the atmosphere. People often see sun dogs near sunrise or sunset, when the sun is low to the horizon.
Here are some of the photos of the sun halo from people around the Comox Valley. It was also seen in Duncan, Parksville and other parts of Vancouver Island. Intersecting halos were also reported.
You can send your photos and videos of the 22° halo to [email protected]
WATCH: Multiple sun dogs in the Comox Valley. Credit: Dawn Ullock.