Rainbow Around The Sun

By Meteorologist Joe Joyce, WBZ-TV
1 Rainbow Around The Sun

Nathan Homan, Falmouth

Numerous phone calls came into the weather office today with reports of a rainbow around the Sun. Some people were surprised by the optical phenomenon saying it was the first time they had ever seen anything like it.
While the full rainbow around the Sun is a rare sight in the daily grind of life it does happen several times in the course of a year. 
We are used to seeing rainbows when it is raining and the sun is out at the same time. But today…it was a Sun Rainbow…better known as a Solar Halo. Halos are seen as a white ring..around the Sun or Moon. Sometimes a rainbow is seen..which happens mainly with the sun.
So to see a Sun or Moon Halo…you need high, thin cirrus clouds which are usually at altitudes above 20,000 feet. We certainly had that today. These clouds are usually a sign of thickening clouds and a chance for rain…which has been the case today as well , thanks to an ocean storm just off the coast. These high altitude cirrus clouds are made of mostly ice crystals which refract the sunlight much like a prism will showing the colors of a rainbow.
2 Rainbow Around The Sun
Tony Peters, Boston

Tony Peters took this photo over Boston today. He wonders what is that small dot? He says he is pretty sure it was not a plane or satellite. He claims it took off at an incredible speed which he estimates had to be over 4,000 mph! Interesting.

3 Rainbow Around The Sun
Linda Quinn, Lynnfield

The event which occurred today was seen by many. It was a perfect circle halo around the sun. Sometimes the rainbow isn’t in the form of a halo, but just colors that just streak across the clouds. These are known as Sun Dogs.

Your typical rainbow is seen as a partial circle or arc. Rainbows are round but the ground prevents you from seeing the full rainbow unless you are high above it…or below it like today.

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