Halo, Sun dogs, Light Pillars – family of Halo

Hey guys did you ever listen the word Halo? Do you know about natural optical phenomenon occurring in nature other than rainbow? Do you want to know about them? Then keep reading.

In one of the previous articles I discussed about rainbow and its cousins namely fogbow, Dewbow and Moonbow. The common thing for all those is that they occur due to dispersion of light through water droplets. Most of us generally know only about these phenomenon but there is another category of optical phenomenon and they come under the family of halo. These occur due to dispersion of light through ice crystals suspended in atmosphere.

Three of the most interesting and most beautiful members of the halo family are

  1. Halo itself
  2. Sun dogs
  3. Light pillars

Now not only these there are many such phenomenon. For the first time when I was reading about these phenomenon I got really amazed, I don’t know why no text book in India mentions about such wonderful phenomenon.

So firstly coming to introduction part these phenomenon are due to dispersion of light by the ice crystals suspended on cirrus clouds or sometimes in atmosphere itself.

Now let us first talk about halo


There are many types of halo but the halo I am talking about is more properly known as 22° halo.


Halo is a circular ring which forms around sun. Sometimes it occurs with seven colours like rainbow and sometimes only as a white ring.

As mentioned above these are formed due to ice crystals suspended in cirrus clouds. The shape of the crystals decide the type of halo.

There is one more type of halo known as Bottlinger’s ring. This halo is elliptical in shape and is very rarely seen. The diameter of this halo is less than normal halo which makes it difficult to see in the presence of sun’s glare. This Bottlinger’s ring is formed by very special shape of crystals. This is the reason why we see it rarely.

2.Sun dogs:

Sun dog is again a beautiful phenomenon and I will say that it is a feast for our eyes.

sundogSun dog consists of bright spots to the left or right or to both the sides of the sun. This is due to refraction through ice itself. Generally the two patches occurs in light colours 22° to the left and to the right of the sun on the same altitude.

Sun dogs are distinguishably observed during sunrise or sunset.

3.Light pillars:

As the name suggests light pillars are pillar like formations which forms due to reflection of sun light from ice crystals. The crystals responsible for light pillars usually consist of flat, hexagonal plates, which tend to orient themselves more or less horizontally as they fall through the air.

light pillars

Generally these are formed when sun is below the horizon or just at the horizon, at this time light get reflected from these ice crystals and forms pillar like long lines in the sky.


There are many more beautiful phenomenon and I will surely talk about them also. I already posted an article about rainbow and three of its cousins, checkout that if you want to.

I hope you like this article and if you do please share it with your curious friends and do rate us.



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