A ring or circle of light around the sun is called a halo. Halos are caused by the ice crystals that make up thin clouds (cirrus clouds). These clouds float 20,000 feet above the ground and are often a sign of rain. A halo normally forms 22 degrees around the sun.
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High cirrus clouds range from 3 to 6 miles high. They are always cold even in hot and arid conditions. Cirrus clouds are made of millions of tiny ice crystals. These crystals are often referred to as diamond dust because they sparkle as they reflect and split light.
To the left and right of a sun halo are bright areas called sun dogs -- also known as parhelia or mock suns. They are easily seen when the sun is low on the horizon and at any time of the year all over the world. Above the halo sits a wavy line of light called the upper tangent arc. Below the halo sits a narrow column of light called the sun pillar
Sun halos are easily seen when the sun is shielded by an object such as a hand, thumb or a building. Sun halos can be seen at least once or twice every week. You should never look at the sun directly as this can damage your eyesight.
Sun halos are often taken as signs or warnings of rain or bad weather. They have also been seen as a good or bad omen during notable battles in history. The sun dog parts of a sun halo have be mistaken in the past for unidentified flying objects.
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