Outdoor FunWeather 101

Ice Crystals Beautify The Sky With Sun Dogs, Halos, & Sun Pillars

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By Joshua

Ice crystals do a lot more than give cirrus clouds wispy tails.

Ice crystals are responsible for some beautiful and colorful light shows in the sky.

Sometimes (especially in the winter), you can look up in the sky near sunrise or sunset and see bands of color in the clouds. These bands of color are caused by ice crystals, which can bend light and create spectrums of color not unlike those seen in a rainbow.

While the ice crystal displays are not rainbows, the colors can be just as stunning.

NOTE: Please don’t look directly at the sun! You can permanently damage your eyes by looking at the sun. Protect your eyes with your hand or something else to block the sun from directly hitting your eyes.

  • Sun dogs: A patch of color seen in cirrus clouds at a 22-degree angle from the sun.
  • Halos: Formed by ice crystals, halos can be seen around the sun or as a ring around the moon.
  • Sun pillars: a vertical band of light which can be seen above or below the sun, particularly when it is cold out and the sun is rather close to the horizon.

Just for fun, did you know you can make your own ice crystals?