Lunar rainbow: Ice crystals create subtle art

2011-07-15 00:00

THE eerie sight of a Moon halo and Scorpio’s tail was captured on camera by reader Keith Fey in Hilton on Wednesday night. The photo was taken with a Canon Powershot G11 at f/3.5; with a 15-second exposure at ISO 80 and exposure bias of -0,3 stops.

Science writer and amateur astronomer Allen Versfeld of www.urban-astronomer.com told The Witness that a lunar halo is caused by moonlight being refracted through tiny ice crystals floating high up in the atmosphere. “It’s a similar process as when sunlight bounces back through raindrops to create a rainbow. If you look carefully you can just make out the same colours in the halo, although they’re quite subtle because moonlight is rather faint. Halos are also quite common around the Sun, but people tend not to notice them as easily. This is probably because we don’t usually look at the sky much during daylight.”

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