Residents around Johannesburg, South Africa were treated with a rare astronomical (or actually atmospheric) sight — a halo around the Sun. These halos are striking to see, but unlike an eclipse, they can’t be predicted. 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 solar sphere. Basically, sunlight is reflecting off moisture in the atmosphere. These images were sent in by Alan Buff from Centurion, South Africa. See more below.
In folklore, these halos seen around the Sun or the Moon means precipitation is on the way, which makes sense, since moisture in the atmosphere usually makes it down to the ground. High clouds of ice crystals are called cirrus clouds, and these often form in at the leading edge of warm fronts that bring rain.
Newspaper and internet articles report that Johannesburg was buzzing about the weird halos; however, the explanation was simple and did not include aliens or end-of-the-world scenarios.
Thanks again to Alan Buff for sharing his images with Universe Today.