KSN viewer, Karri Penner, recently captured a photogenic atmospheric phenomena. The picture below was taken on Sunday morning, January 16, 2022, in Wichita. There are two features in this picture to discuss. The halo around the sun and the bright spots around that halo.

Halos sometimes appear around the sun when are ice crystals form in the air. They are usually at higher altitudes while reflecting and refracting sunlight for the halo to appear. Halos are also most common during the cold season. This is because the colder the weather, the more ice crystals are typically found in the upper levels of the atmosphere. When it comes to the arctic blasts we have been experiencing, this bitterly cold air sets us up by also providing a surplus of ice crystals.

Look for thin, wispy cirrus clouds. Our next cold blast the middle of this week will provide the air needed for a surplus of ice crystals but it may be too cloudy to look for a halo around the sun Wednesday. Thursday may be a better day to look for a halo as clouds break and the cold air sticks around.

Bright spots that are around the halo are called sun dogs. They are only seen when the sun is low in the sky. For example, shortly before sunset or shortly after sunrise you can witness this. The ice crystals that cause the sundogs to appear align relative to the horizon. Still airflow also helps.

We can see the same effect at night. Halos and moon dogs can also form around the moon. If you are willing to brave the cold and potentially capture these cool atmospheric features, share your pictures with us at ksn.com/connect3now/.

-Meteorologist Ronelle Williams