Don’t worry, there is nothing unnatural about that strange arcs of light you’ll sometimes see in the sky. Ice halos are a very natural atmospheric phenomenon, created when ice crystals suspended in the sky reflect and refract sunlight. But they truly are an impressive sight.
You can read all about the different types of ice halos and how they form, and if you’ve captured a weird cloud or halo effect of your own, head over to the folks at The Cloud Appreciation Society to learn more about it.
Singapore, August 2011
NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day suggests this is a “jumping sundog” and explains what’s going on in this video:
Upon inspection and contemplation, a leading hypothesis for its cause has now emerged. In sum, this hypothesis holds that a lightning discharge in a thundercloud can temporarily change the electric field above the cloud where charged ice crystals were reflecting sunlight. The new electric field quickly re-orients the geometric crystals to a new orientation that reflects sunlight differently. In other words, a lightning discharge can cause a sundog to jump. Soon, the old electric field may be restored, causing the ice crystals to return to their original orientation. To help this curious phenomenon become better studied, sky enthusiasts with similar jumping or dancing sundog videos are encouraged to share them.
Jaisalmer, India, August 2012
Over Suvanabhumi Airport, Thailand, May 2014
Over Greenwood, Indiana, June 2015
This is how a colorful ice halo can be seen from a plane
Bonus: SDO’s Atlas V rocket destroys an ice halo, February 2010
Double bonus: Sonic boom meets ice halo