Sunshine produces a sky full of atmospheric optic phenomena

Friday, January 16, 2015

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The return of the sun Thursday afternoon produced some unusual natural creations in the upper atmosphere. Called "atmospheric optics" the bright halos, arcs and spots are created by sunlight shining thru ice crystals in the upper atmosphere.

A viewer in the Woodlands took this photo that included four different optic phenomena. A circular 22-degree halo surrounds the sun. A wing-shaped tangent arc is located at the top of the 22-degree halo. Beyond that there's a second oval-shaped circumscribed halo. And much higher in the sky is a circumzenithal arc. It's not unusual to see one of these optics, but it's rare to see four in the sky at the same time.

Several other viewers saw bright spots on either side of the sun just as it was setting Thursday evening. These "sun dogs" are also created by ice crystals in the thin cirrus clouds overhead.

Check our online gallery to see several other weather photos.

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