Elliptical Halo Over Southern Ohio

May 02, 2008


Referred by: Michael Ellestad
Summary author: Michael Ellestad

While working in my wood shop in southern Ohio, I looked out the window and noticed dissipating altocumulus and cirrus clouds. I knew immediately it was the kind of day to see halos. I grabbed my camera and headed out. Right away, I looked up and spotted a rare elliptical halo. I ran like mad, retrieved the macro lens, and found a telephone pole to block the Sun. This odd shaped halo lasted a good 10 minutes and then vanished. A half hour later, it seemed to reappear when another similar looking halo formed. This one was even brighter than the first. In addition, the new halo was colored red inside, blue outside. This halo had some company -- in the form of two other elliptical halos. The entire display lasted over two hours, which is remarkable for elliptical halos that normally have durations of a minute or less. Elliptical halos are formed by light refraction through pyramidal crystals having very large obtuse angles. Whenever you happen to see dissipating mid- or upper-level clouds, grab you sunglasses and camera because you may be in for a rare optical treat. Photo taken on March 23, 2008.