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Friday, December 3, 2021
HomeNewsLocal newsWorld Didn't End; Sun and Ice Crystals Formed Solar Halo

World Didn’t End; Sun and Ice Crystals Formed Solar Halo

Sunlight and ice crystals in the upper atmosphere interact, creating a spectacular solar halo.A little before noon Sunday, several diners at the new My Brothers Workshop Café and Bakery on Back Street almost leapt from their chairs and charged into the adjacent parking lot to see why some folks were gazing up in the sky.

Turns out it wasn’t the end of the world, as someone had suggested. It was a solar halo surrounding the sun, as the name implies; and it seemed to absorb the whole sky.

According to Wikipedia: A halo, also known as a nimbus, is produced by light interacting with ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere, resulting in a wide variety of colored or white rings, arcs and spots in the sky.”

The solar halo shines through a St. Thomas mango tree.Closer to home, University of the Virgin Islands physics professor David Smith shared a professional view on the phenomenon.

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"Ice crystals in the upper atmosphere create this halo, like little rainbows,” he said. "It’s produced by light interacting with the ice crystals.”

Smith said the phenomenon isn’t all that rare further north.

"It’s not as common in the tropics, since there are fewer ice crystals in the upper atmosphere,” he said.

A previous halo also appeared in the local sky a few weeks ago, Smith said, adding he had seen very few in the 30 years he has lived here.

Of sharing his store of knowledge, Smith had this to say: "When something about the sciences happens, we’re usually quite happy to talk about it.”
 

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