Monday, November 01, 2010
'The crown of my week'

A text message arrived on Johannes Swanepoel's phone this morning. A sun halo was visible in the sky over Johannesburg, South Africa, and the note told him to hurry up and look at the sky. He oohed and ahhed about it and took several photos. An hour later, it was gone.

"I had a bit of a blue Monday and this was a welcoming gift to brighten up my day," he said. "This will be the crown of my week."

Swanepoel frantically searched to see if anyone else had gotten the scoop. He soon found that others were starting to post photos online. Friends in Pretoria had also seen the ring. So he merged five of his photos together and sent his view of the sun dog to CNN iReport.

"Secretly I have a dream to be a journalist, so this exercise was quite exciting," he said.

Also known as a parhelion in scientific nomenclature, a sun halo or sun dog is an atmospheric phenomenon in which cirrus clouds are high in the atmosphere and ice crystals reflect and refract light into the rainbow colors that are seen.

CNN's weather folks shared some information about the halos after similar rainbow rings were spotted over the Philippines in May; you can get more background information about the halos there.

Chantal Collings is another iReporter in Johannesburg who spotted the rainbow ring and submitted lovely imagery taken from her back garden. She said this halo was especially well-formed compared to other sun dogs she's seen.

"While I have seen smaller and lighter halos, this one was large, perfectly formed and coloured and remarkably impressive! It definitely had what I like to call the 'goose bump factor.'"

Mohsin Ismail also sent us several photos, saying that South African citizens don't commonly see a sight like this. What about you? Ever seen a sun dog before? Got thoughts on these pictures? Share your thoughts in the comments area below, and upload images if you've got 'em.

November 1, 2010
Click to view drcrawford's profile

i see them all the time, however not in the complete form like this


usually just lines on each side, and sometimes also to the south of the sun

November 1, 2010
Click to view Drfloyd11's profile

ha, suure you do crawford

November 1, 2010
Click to view unkatharos's profile

Very cool!

November 1, 2010
Click to view Sodahead2's profile

Upper atmosphere ice crystals cause this.

November 1, 2010
Click to view Avtanski's profile

They are quite common here in California.  I don't know how is it in South Africa, but here you can see dozens each year, and are almost a daily sight in winter.  However, there's a catch - you have to remember to look up.  I was amazed how many of my neighbors and colleagues had never seen a 22-degree halo.

November 1, 2010
Click to view hobbit67's profile

Actually see them fairly often...most recently in North Dakota while pheasant hunting. 


At one point I had looked up why sometimes you get a full halo and sometimes just the two points on each side (ice dogs).  IIRC it had to do with how the ice crystals were aligned.  If they were aligned randomly, you get the halo.  If they are aligned the same, ice dogs are the result,

November 1, 2010
Click to view cartwright's profile

oh my god a double rainbow!

November 1, 2010
Click to view HotelEcho's profile

Really nice. Congratulations on capturing such great halo.



November 1, 2010
Click to view mandeng's profile

the signs are shyning

November 1, 2010
Click to view lsessions's profile

Hey, great photo! How about posting some over at (or Earthsky on Facebook).

November 1, 2010
Click to view dwight's profile

How amazing our Universe really is. What a shame that more are not interested in what is out beyond the security of the Cradle of Earth.


More money to Ricahrd Bransom and private space industries as well as continuing to fund Nasa.


Images like the one above are truely spiritual unlike other spiritualities of living in the moment that are gone that can never be enjoyed again in the same sensory perception.

November 1, 2010
Click to view oldsmobile's profile

Almost everybody's seen a rainbow, relatively few know about halos, yet halos like this one occur much more frequently.

November 1, 2010
Click to view AstronomyGuy's profile

Nice catch :-) It's amazing what you can see if you just look up once in a while. I'm constantly amazed at how many people don't realize you can even spot satellites going over at the right time of day. is a great site for stuff like this.

November 19, 2010
Click to view Ndadjo's profile


Why don't someone send them mms the one most prominent mineral that cures everything. just type in mms or miracle mineral supplement in any search engine and you will find it and what it can cure and do. I do use it and have cured many people of various disease. People around the world are dying needlessly because this mineral is not being promoted and used.

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