Yesterday on the way home, when I looked up from my book I saw a glorious double halo around the sun. It’s a pretty desperate deal to shoot through the bus window, but I had to try – I can’t remember I’ve ever seen a double halo. I just kept hoping that the halos would still be there when I got home, and this time I had luck on my side. They were fading and the rings were no longer complete, but both of them were still visible so I hurried home, put the fish-eye on the camera and ran back out, trying to find a decent spot to shoot from.

I think that this is the first time I’ve wished for something wider than 24mm. I couldn’t fit both halos in the frame, so I had to settle for partials. Although come to think of it, since the rings had faded out on the right side, I guess I wasn’t missing out too bad. But at least I was able to document the phenomenon and this time it’s enough. Btw, I was shooting at f/16 but it was impossible to get a starburst because of the thin veil in front of the sun, dispersing the light. Which made it possible for the halo to happen in the first place…

22 degree halo
A distinct 22 degree halo around the sun with a faint 46 degree halo on the left

Afterwards, I did some reading to find out exactly how rare this double halo is. I found out that the inner ring is called a 22 degree halo and it’s actually quite common, even if I’m sure that I haven’t seen quite as often as they claim it occurs. The outer ring is a 46 degree halo and that’s the rare one, although it seems like a 46 degree halo can sometimes be confused with other halo phenomena. But having read the documentation and studied the picture on the linked page, I’m fairly sure that this was a genuine 46 degree halo.

Faded halos and clouds
Faded halos and clouds

In the first picture, the parhelia is clearly visible (the ray that is shooting to the left from the 22 degree halo) and it’s also possible to distinguish the tangent arc (on top of the 22 degree halo). In the second picture, the halos were seriously fading out and you can just barely make out the circumzenithal arc on top of the 46 degree halo. There’s also a curious cloud formation that looks like sun rays.

Cool. I learned something today!

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