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Colorful Sun Halos Spotted Above N. Oregon Coast

Published 09/17/2018 at 4:47 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Colorful Sun Halos Spotted Above N. Oregon Coast

(Seaside, Oregon) - Sun halos graced the skies above the north Oregon coast earlier today (Monday). Angi Wildt of Seaside took these photos of the esoteric wonder, which is the sibling of the nocturnal moon halo. (Daytime photos courtesy Wildt).

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Both are the result of high cirrus clouds, ice crystals and a combination of refraction and reflection.

The common wisdom about moon or sun halos is that they are indicative of a coming rain storm or even snow. That’s not always so, as today represents. The forecast for the Oregon coast tonight is not for rain but mostly clear skies, but fog after midnight.

According to EarthSky.org, those high clouds contain millions of tiny ice crystals. Like many Oregon coast sky phenomena – such as the Green Flash at Sunset – halos are made by refraction, which means the splitting of light. However here, the ice crystals also cause reflection, where sunlight is sparkling off the crystals.

The result is a very personal experience – quite literally. Like rainbows, the exact colors, size and shape depend on what position you are in relation to the refraction and reflection. It changes upon point of view, so if you shift position you’ll see something slightly different. The person next to you will as well.

Moon halos are sometimes at least as stunning, and they too are the result of tiny ice crystals lurking high in the sky, usually around 20,000 feet above and existing as thin, wispy clouds. These come in two flavors: a giant, whitish ring around the moon, or a blob of colors surrounding the moon. Both require a thin layer of clouds that does essentially the same thing in terms of refraction that a sun dog or sun halo does.

With a moon halo, the color is often washed out and more like a glowing ring because the moon isn’t nearly as bright as the sun. Many of the multicolored forms are much smaller, but they seem to have a rainbow full of colors. Amusingly, they can also resemble Pac Man in the sky.

While moon halos often mean some incoming weather system, as mentioned before that is not always the case. The photo below was taken in Depoe Bay on a September night when the weather was warm, and in fact the following day had sunny skies and temps near a balmy 70 degrees. Lodging in Astoria/Seaside - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


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