If it's not a rainbow, what is it?

Published On: Nov 19 2012 06:39:44 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 19 2013 06:35:57 AM CST

Several of these pictures have been sent to hotshots@click2houston.com. It’s called a 22-degree halo and forms on days with cirrus clouds covering the sky. (The 22-degrees is the radius around the sun.) These halos aren’t that rare but occur more often in the northern United States and in colder climates. We do get them from time to time in southeast Texas as thin milky clouds cover the sky. Cirrus clouds are made of tiny ice crystals and are 20,000-30,000 feet in the sky. The crystals refract sunlight and bend the tiny crystals into a circle.

Photo by: Clay Spence, Brookshire

Photo by: Tresa Weisz, Math and Science Teacher at Willbern Elementary

Weather folklore states halos foretell of coming rain, but this isn’t true. With some weather systems cirrus clouds move in ahead of a warm or cold front, but this isn’t always the case either. They are almost always mistaken as rainbows circling the sun or moon but aren't because these halos form on dry days. Cirrus clouds do not produce rain. They are a treat to see.

This a rare double 22-degree halo. Photo by: Emily Gibson