Photographer Captures Stunning Ice Halo Formed Over The Swiss Alps
A photographer has captured an extraordinary image that shows a magnificently full ‘ice halo’ forming over the Swiss Alps.
Michael Schneider, from Switzerland, had been out skiing one November morning when the fog cleared; revealing the sun encircled by two striking rings on account of ice crystals having frozen in mid-air.
The ice rings were a little faint at first, but became more and more radiant as Michael watched; until both the sun and the edges of the the Hörnligrat mountain were framed by a complete circle.
Michael knew he had to document the glorious moment, whipping out his iPhone 11 to take what surely must be one of the most beautiful pictures of this winter season so far.
Speaking about the enchanting scene, Michael said:
I quickly realised that a halo was developing in the backlight to the Sun, initially very inconspicuous until this light phenomenon increased incredibly. I was fascinated by the two rings around the Sun and the many light reflections.
[…] These halos are simply fascinating.
Although the angelic photograph appears to have caught something magical and otherworldly, this is – of course – pure optical phenomenon.
As explained by Geophysicist Mika McKinnon, such halos occur when tiny ice crystals are suspended in the air:
The crystals can be high up in cirrus clouds, or closer to the ground as diamond dust or ice fog.
Just like raindrops scatter light into rainbows, the crystals of ice can reflect and refract light, acting as mirrors or prisms depending on the shape of the crystal and the incident angle of the light.
This image was reportedly snapped on the Hörnligrat, the mountain station of the Hörnli-Express and Urdenbahn cable cars.
Writing on Facebook, Fox 32 meteorologist Mike Caplan spoke of the rarity of this stunning display:
Ice haloes are created by various ice crystals brought to sparkling life by the sun. The size, shape and number of those crystals determine which components of the halo appear.
In this case, there was an abundance of tiny crystals (often seen in ski areas btw) and that led to this incredible display. Locally, we often see sundogs (parhelia) but rarely see anything like this. In fact, some of the arcs (labeled on the second image) are seldom seen anywhere.
Absolutely awe inspiring stuff whether or not you’re a scientist, and a timely reminder of the many mysterious beauties of our planet.
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CreditsMike Caplan, Meteorologist at Fox 32/Facebook
Mike Caplan, Meteorologist at Fox 32/Facebook