22° Circular Halo

The Mesmerizing Beauty of the 22° Circular Halo

Atmospheric optics never fails to captivate us with its stunning displays of natural phenomena. One such spectacle is the 22° circular halo, which can be observed in various locations around the world. From the icy landscapes of the South Pole to the frosty reaches of the Russian and Canadian Arctic, the 22° circular halo presents itself in a multitude of moods and breathtaking visuals.

The 22° circular halo is a halo that forms around the Sun or Moon when light interacts with ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. These ice crystals can be found in cirrus clouds or even high-altitude contrails left behind by aircraft. The halo appears as a ring with a radius of approximately 22° around the celestial body, creating a mesmerizing display of light and color.

The Science Behind the Halo

To understand the formation of the 22° circular halo, we must delve into the science of atmospheric optics. When sunlight or moonlight passes through ice crystals, it undergoes refraction, which causes the light to bend. The specific angle at which the light bends determines the size of the halo. In the case of the 22° circular halo, the light is refracted at an angle of 22 degrees, resulting in the formation of a distinct ring.

A Kaleidoscope of Colors

The 22° circular halo is not just a simple ring of light; it also exhibits a stunning array of colors. This phenomenon is due to the dispersion of light as it passes through the ice crystals. The different colors of light have different wavelengths, and when they are refracted, they separate, creating a colorful display within the halo. From vibrant reds and oranges to cool blues and purples, the 22° circular halo showcases nature's own palette in the sky.

Unique Halos within the Halo

While the 22° circular halo is the most prominent feature, keen observers may also notice additional halos within the halo. These secondary halos, known as "parhelia" or "sun dogs," appear as bright spots on either side of the Sun, approximately 22 degrees away. They are caused by the refraction and reflection of light within the ice crystals, creating a mirage-like effect. The presence of these secondary halos adds another layer of intrigue to the already captivating 22° circular halo.

Geographic Variations

The images captured from various locations around the world reveal the diverse appearances of the 22° circular halo. In colder regions such as the South Pole or the Arctic, where ice crystals are abundant, the halo may appear more defined and vibrant. Conversely, in warmer climates, where ice crystals are less common, the halo may be fainter and less pronounced. These geographic variations highlight the influence of atmospheric conditions on the appearance of atmospheric optics phenomena.

Capturing the Magic

Photographers and enthusiasts alike strive to capture the ethereal beauty of the 22° circular halo. The key to photographing this phenomenon lies in proper positioning and timing. The halo is best observed when the Sun or Moon is relatively low on the horizon, as this allows for a larger portion of the sky to be illuminated by the refracted light. Patience is also essential, as atmospheric conditions can change rapidly, altering the appearance of the halo within moments.

A Universal Fascination

The allure of atmospheric optics knows no boundaries. People from all corners of the globe are captivated by the enchanting displays that nature presents in the sky. The 22° circular halo, with its striking ring and vibrant colors, is no exception. Whether witnessed in the frozen landscapes of Antarctica or in the crisp air of the Arctic, this atmospheric phenomenon never fails to inspire awe and wonder.

Exploring Further

For those who wish to delve deeper into the world of atmospheric optics, there are countless other fascinating phenomena to discover. From the intricate patterns of iridescent clouds to the elusive glory and elusive circumhorizontal arcs, the sky is a treasure trove of captivating optical displays. By observing and understanding these phenomena, we gain a greater appreciation for the intricate workings of our atmosphere and the wonders that lie above us.


The 22° circular halo stands as a testament to the beauty and complexity of atmospheric optics. With its captivating ring and kaleidoscope of colors, this phenomenon never fails to leave observers in awe. From the frozen landscapes of the South Pole to the frosty reaches of the Arctic, the 22° circular halo presents itself in various moods and mesmerizing visuals. As we continue to explore and study atmospheric optics, we unlock the secrets of nature's own light show, reminding us of the wonders that exist right above our heads.

Skies and 22º halos have many moods. These images, ranging in location from

__ the South Pole through several warmer climes to the Russian and Canadian Arctic,__

__ portray just a few.__

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Reference Atmospheric Optics

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  • "22° Circular Halo". Atmospheric Optics. Accessed on November 30, 2023. https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/22-circular-halo/.

  • "22° Circular Halo". Atmospheric Optics, https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/22-circular-halo/. Accessed 30 November, 2023

  • 22° Circular Halo. Atmospheric Optics. Retrieved from https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/22-circular-halo/.