Apr 28, 2019 10:23 AM EDT
There’s a deep-rooted weather proverb: ring around the moon means rain soon. There’s truth to this saying, because high cirrus clouds often come before a storm. Solar halos are also sometimes visible, prompting spectators to awe at the rare phenomenon. However, more often than not, the skies look fairly clear. After all, you can see the sun or moon and yet halos are a sign of high, thin cirrus clouds drifting 20,000 feet or more above our heads.
These clouds contain millions of tiny ice crystals. The halos you see are caused by both refraction, or splitting of light, and also by reflection, or glints of light from these ice crystals. The crystals have to be oriented and positioned just so with respect to your eye, in order for the halo to appear. That’s why, like rainbows, halos around the sun-or moon-are personal. Everyone sees their own particular halo, made by their own particular ice crystals, which are different from the ice crystals making the halo of the person standing next to you.
With that being said, residents and visitors to Taitung County, Taiwan experienced the remarkable sight of a solar halo on Sunday, which appeared about an hour before noon in the form of colored rings around the sun. Thousands of people in the scenic east coast area took pictures of the optical phenomenon, which were posted on social media in creative and funny memes. One netizen posted a photo of his face in the center of the halo like that of a god. A couple formed a heart with their arms stretched out toward the sun, with the halo as a romantic background.
According to Taiwan folklore, a solar halo signals rain at night, but a weatherman told CNA that was a myth with no scientific basis. The solar halo in Taitung lasted from around 11 a.m. to noon, and according to media reports, one was also seen in some parts of Japan, namely the regions of Mie, Gifu and Nagano.
Since the solar halo appeared a few days before the start of Japan’s new imperial era Reiwa, it was seen as a good omen, the reports said, citing Japanese folklore.