Friday, February 1, 2013

Ring Around the Moon

If you every walk outside and notice a large ring around the Moon in the sky, make sure you take advantage of this observing opportunity.  Grab your kids and show them how cool the Moon looks!  Seeing a ring around the Moon is not very common.  You won't see it every night, and it may be months or years between seeing it.  I've seen this a handful of times over the last two years.  This will usually happen during a full Moon and look something like the picture below.

Ring around the Moon

What causes this ring?  The answer is ice crystals.  If the conditions in Earth's atmosphere are right, tiny ice crystals can form in Earth's upper atmosphere.  If there are enough crystals, light passing through (moonlight) refracts and bends, producing a ring like structure, amazing parents and children alike!

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