Astrophotos: Sun Halo, Crescent Moon and Earthshine

by Nancy Atkinson on March 3, 2014

A solar halo was visible neara the Chilidog Observatory in Monterrey, Mexico. Credit and copyright: César Cantú.

A solar halo was visible neara the Chilidog Observatory in Monterrey, Mexico. Credit and copyright: César Cantú.

Here’s a few great astrophotos for today! Astrophotographer César Cantú from the Chilidog Observatory in Monterrey, Mexico captured this stunning halo around the Sun on March 2, 2014. A solar halo is an optical phenomenon produced by ice crystals creating colored or white arcs and spots in the sky. Conditions in the atmosphere have to be just right, with moisture or ice crystals creating a “rainbow” effect around the Sun. Sometimes the halos surround the Sun completely, other times, they appear as arcs around the Sun creating what is known as sundogs. Basically, sunlight is reflecting off moisture in the atmosphere.

Ice crystals in Earth’s atmosphere can also cause rings around the Moon, and moondogs and even Venus “pillars.”

But make sure you look at the crescent Moon tonight — if you’ve missed seeing the thin crescent the past two evenings, tonight it will still be only 11% illuminated (according to Universe Today’s Phases of the Moon app!). Tonight you still might have the chance to see a little Earthshine — reflected Earthlight visible on the Moon’s night side.

See some great crescent Moon and Earthshine images below!

This image comes from one of our “regulars,” John Chumack, who says, “If you have clear skies, go out again tonight (03-03-2014) and look West between 7:00pm and 8:00pm EST, you will see the crescent Moon with Earthshine!”

Also, just another note from John: between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm the Planet Uranus is 7.5 degrees below the Crescent Moon just after Sunset, but you will not see Uranus until it gets dark enough. You will need a telescope or binoculars to easily view Uranus at Magnitude 5.9, shortly after 8:15pm Uranus will set in the west and then the Moon follows shortly after that.

The young thin Crescent Moon with Earthshine was hanging low in the west near Tampa, Florida on March 2, 2014. Credit and copyright: John Chumack.

The young thin Crescent Moon with Earthshine was hanging low in the west near Tampa, Florida on March 2, 2014. Credit and copyright: John Chumack.

The Crescent Moon at 2.45 days old on March 3, 2014. Credit and copyright: James Lennie.

The Crescent Moon at 2.45 days old on March 3, 2014. Credit and copyright: James Lennie.

Crescent Moon with Earthshine on March 3, 2014. Credit and copyright: Raymond Gilchrist.

Crescent Moon with Earthshine on March 3, 2014. Credit and copyright: Raymond Gilchrist.

Check out more great images on our Flickr group page.

Want to get your astrophoto featured on Universe Today? Join our Flickr group or send us your images by email (this means you’re giving us permission to post them). Please explain what’s in the picture, when you took it, the equipment you used, etc.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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