[LOOK] WOW! What Was That Amazing Halo Above Cheyenne Yesterday?
So, I'll be honest; I don't usually think snow equals rainbow. But yesterday, that's precisely what happened. I walked outside and saw a stunning double rainbow East of town around 9 a.m.
Even though it was freezing cold (-8 degrees!) and my hands were so, so cold, I had to stop and snap a video and some pics. And that's when I realized the rainbow wasn't just a rainbow. It was a breathtaking double halo around the sun.
I blinked. I'd never seen that before!
But it's not uncommon to have this dazzling sight occur.
According to Weather.Gov, the effect is called a sun halo," which is "caused by the refraction, reflection, and dispersion of light through ice particles suspended within thin, wispy, high altitude cirrus or cirrostratus clouds."
If you look closely at the photos and video below, you'll also see another, a rarer phenomenon called sun dogs." These bursts of light are usually off to the side of the sun and look like mini-sunbursts. According to Weather.Gov, "sundogs are also known as mock suns or parhelia, which means "with the sun."
What Do Sun Halos Mean?
According to the Farmer's Almanac, an old folkloric belief states that snow or rain follows a sun halo.
The saying goes:
"A ring around the Sun or Moon
means rain or snow is coming soon."
Of course, in our case, this fantastic phenomenon followed our frigid snowstorm - so maybe it's not the best rule of thumb to follow.
What Causes Sun Halos to Appear?
The Farmer's Almanac explains that prisms of light pass through ice crystals to create gorgeous halos - depending on how the light hits the crystals, the halo may look like "a very pale rainbow."
Are Sun Halos Just Rainbows?
Sun Halos and rainbows are similar - they are created via the prism effect of light passing through the liquid. But the main difference is that rainbows come from liquid water, and sun halos occur from frozen crystals. So, essentially, we're more likely to see sun halos before or after a snowstorm.