(WKBN) — Pictures and reports of a moon ring were sent into the station last night. These fun weather optics are caught from time to time through the year.
Maybe you caught this ring/halo too as you were looking up in the sky to catch a glimpse of the Green Comet.
How a moon halo or ring is created
A moon halo, also known as a lunar halo or ring, is a circle around the moon. It happens when the moon’s angle to high-level clouds directs moonlight to the ice crystals of the clouds. High clouds are made of tiny ice crystals.
The light is refracted from the ice crystals and creates a prism, causing the rainbow color from each. This also happens with the sun.
The angle of the moon and the person seeing the halo has to be at a certain threshold.
This dispersion of light with the ice crystals creates the ring around the sun called a moon halo.
Does a moon halo forecast the weather?
The answer to the question if a sun halo can predict the weather is both yes, and no.
The halo is produced from ice crystals of high cirrus clouds. High cirrus clouds can be a sign that a warm front is moving toward a region. These high cirrus clouds will slowly build way up high in the atmosphere as warmer air is forced upward over the top of colder air.
The cirrus clouds are typically the first type of clouds to form as a warm front moves toward an area.
Why the moon halo can forecast the weather
The moon halo is formed from ice crystals in cirrus clouds. The cirrus clouds could be a sign that a warm front is approaching the area. If that is the case, you could expect warmer temperatures to move in as well as thicker clouds as the warm front approaches. As the clouds get thicker, you may experience precipitation.
So, yes: The moon halo, or sun halo, can be a good indicator that a warm front is approaching and that precipitation may follow soon.
Why the moon halo does not forecast the weather
The ice crystals in the sky may not always be from the process of a warm front developing. They could be leftover from big towering thunderstorms a long distance from your location. They may also be there as a warm front approaches, but it slides south of your region. The weather does not change as the front does not move through.
In the end, the moon halo is a great thing to catch and makes for fantastic pictures, but it is not a great weather forecaster all of the time. It may be hard to tell what is causing the high-level ice crystals resulting in a forecast that does not have a solid base.