A halo over FDU

Story and photo by Dan Landau

If you looked to the heavens on Tuesday, May 14, you may have seen a really beautiful weather phenomenon occurring: a rainbow-like halo encircling the sun.

“This is a very spectacular halo,” says Dr. Michael Kalb, a lecturer in physics at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham. “These halos happen frequently, but are usually not as pronounced as this one is. Halos like this also happen with the moon.”

Called a “22 degree halo” by scientists, the halo is caused by sunlight refracting through ice crystals in the clouds at a 22-degree angle. The rainbow pattern in the halo is the result of the ice crystals acting as prisms and dispersing the sun’s white light (think Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album cover).

“Halos happen when it is partly cloudy,” continues Kalb. “When it is very cloudy, no light gets through. When there are no clouds, too much light gets through, but when it is partly cloudy, just enough light comes through the clouds and creates this effect.” 

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

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