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What causes a halo to form around the moon? | WEATHER MINDS

A photo was posted to social media a few days ago of a halo around the moon, but what causes that to happen?

SAN ANTONIO — Just the other day, the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi posted a photo of a halo in the sky that was showing up around the moon, which is a phenomenon that can sometimes be seen in south Texas.

HALO 👋 Got a nice picture of the halo around the moon tonight due to light refracting and reflecting from ice crystals in cirrus clouds! #txwx #stxwx #moon Learn more about other interesting weather...

For this phenomenon to occur, we need to have a bright light in the form of either a full – or nearly full – moon or sun, and there needs to be a cirrostratus layer of cloud cover.


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Cirrostratus clouds are a mixture of two cloud types: Cirrus clouds are high-level clouds made up of ice crystals, while stratus clouds are horizontal, uniform clouds that cover a large span of the sky.

Credit: Andrew Wilson
How a halo forms around the moon

When these two types of clouds form a cirrostratus deck, you have an upper-level uniformed deck of clouds that is composed of ice crystals.

As light from the moon or sun passes through the ice crystals, it is bent, an effect known as refraction. The bent light is what causes the halo to form around the moon or sun.

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