Strange Ring Around the Moon

Stepped out for a smoke and looking up at the moon I noticed a faint ring around the moon,looked like a giant smoke ring.The ring wasn’t close to the moon ,imagine a quarter sitting in the middle of a frisbee,the outer edge of the frisbee would be how far the ring was away from the moon(hope that gives you some idea what I’m talking about).Any of you ever seen this before?What is it? Is it common?
I am in West Michigan if anyone nearby wants to go have a look.

I’ve seen it often in Minnesota, but only on cold nights.

Are you talking about the regular ‘moon halo’ produced by ice crystals?

If so, it’s reasonably common (usually you need a cool and mostly clear night in my experience).
This picture shows the scale, though due to the way the picture is exposed, what you saw at night probably looked more crisp and possibly even more defined:

The link also has some explanation of how it forms. It’s moonlight interacting with ice crystals in the upper atmosphere (and the distance from the moon is because of the hexagonal shape of the crystals).

A similar effect can occur with light from the sun, but it’s harder to notice.

That’s the light from the moon being refracted by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere.

Huh…yup that’s it.Thanks guys.strange I’ve never noticed one before.Gotta get out more I guess.

One of the images on the page David Simmons linked to (which is otherwise a good explanation of what occurs) seems a bit misleading, since it doesn’t clearly show the orientation of the crystals. goes into a bit more depth. Note that the ‘22 degrees radius’ means it covers 22 degrees of elevation in the sky.

One more question about it.Does it mean a certain weather condition is on the way?

Yep. I think it means rain within the next 24 hours. Or so the weather folklore says.

That’s what I’d heard growing up, the ring meant rain was a comin’.

It’s called a Bishop’s Ring, isn’t it?

It is raining now.

Up in Canada it means that it is fucking freezing outside… which, in winter, is well pretty much every day :slight_smile:

Yeah, but it beats rings around Uranus.

I don’t know about “common,” and I don’t know about “predicting weather;” but I have seen one, and it is spectacular.

One night, many years ago, I was walking to a job at night, and trudging down the railroad tracks as a shortcut. At some point, I was witness to the following tableau:

The tracks (which were polished silvery ahead of me because of train use), the railroad ties, the trees on either side: all were converging at the vanishing point on the horizon ahead of me.

In addition: a full moon in the sky ahead of me but also up in the sky, one of the aforementioned rings (which is an artifact of the moonlight plus ice crystals in the upper atmosphere), and a condensation trail from a jet that went from behind me to in front of me at (probably) 40,000-odd feet.

At one point, the contrail not only lined up with the perspective of the moon/ring complex (so that it went through its exact center), but also with all of the perspective on the ground, and did a bullseye that was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Everything lined up just for a bit.

I’ve never wished I had a camera so much in my life.

After a couple of minutes, the contrail drifted off center, and the moment was over.

I didn’t get a picture of it, and I haven’t tried to recreate it; but it was gorgeous.

Probably something that no-one else saw, but just one of those things that you had to be in the right place at the right time to see.

There used to be a link I had to a website that showed this type of thing. I don’t have it anymore; but if you dig around on “atmospheric phenomena” you can probably find some things that will resemble what you saw.

Not to zombify the thread, but I found the website I was thinking of:

All kinds of explanations, illustrations, and photos…in case you’re curious.

I’ve seen the far-less-common ring around the sun. Same underlying cause, IIRC. When the rings form around the sun, the portion of the sky inside the ring tends to look deeper blue than the part of the sky outside the ring.



Looks like it usually, or commonly, has at least faint rainbow stripes. I didn’t see that, just a distinct monochrome ring. Impressively ominous though: you’d glance in the general direction of the sun and you’d see this huge round eye staring at you!

I’ve seen sundogs and rainbows, and a faintly orange moon, but nothing that spectacular. Which sucks, because I’m dying to see the Northern Lights…

We get that effect all the time here. It usually means a change in weather (usually snow or colder weather) is coming. It really is spectacular.

I’ve seen it and it is really beautiful. It’s a nice change from the usual dark orange vomity sky we get here.