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January 2013

Cloud of the Month for January 2013

January 2013

Arcs and Halos over Huntsville, Alabama, US

Very rare arcs and halos appeared at the end of October 2012 as the sunlight shone through the ice crystals of Cirrostratus clouds that had formed around the fringe of superstorm Sandy. ‘Halo phenomena’ like this are sometimes seen as the sunlight is reflected, refracted and diffracted by the tiny particles of ice that make up high clouds or frozen fog, known as diamond dust.

But this display of arcs and rings was different from the usual. In addition to common halo phenomena such as ‘sundogs‘ and the ‘22-degree halo‘, the display included ones that are very rare indeed. With names like the ‘Hastings arc’, the ‘Wegener arc’ and the ‘Parry supralateral arc’, these halo phenomena appearing together in Cirrostratus clouds is a once-in-a-lifetime event. “Everything appeared gradually,” explained Jane George who took this wonderful photograph from Huntsville, Alabama, US. “It started with the standard 22-degree halo and sundogs, and then the rest started to appear over the next hour or two. It was really something.”

You can say that again. Les Cowley, an expert in the optical effects caused by the sunlight passing through clouds (someone’s gotta be!) is an honorary member of the Cloud Appreciation Society. He described the scene captured by Jane as “a truly outstanding – even sublime – display.” That sounds to us like a good Cloud of The Month with which to start 2013!

Photograph © Jane George.

  • Clive Austin avatar


    January 4, 2013 at 8:37 am


  • Jayne Lockwood

    January 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Fantastic photo. An embarrassment of riches.

  • Jane

    January 4, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Yay! Thanks for selecting my photo. This was a truly outstanding thing to witness.

  • Darren

    January 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I have photos of circumzenithal arcs, circumhorizontal arcs, sundogs and halos… but this is crazy.

  • Jill D Mabbott avatar

    . Granny Weatherwitch, ex- U.K. Met. Office

    January 8, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Absolutely amazing! Sad, though, that so much environmental destruction ^ human misery had to be part of the reason for the existsnce of such beauty. Nature is full of paradoxes! GWW

  • Michael Carl Davies avatar

    Michael C Davies

    January 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Beautiful amigo :-)

  • Geraldine Stewart avatar


    January 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Oh, my!

  • Willum Morsch avatar


    January 16, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Great picture!
    What a fantastic sight that must have been!

  • Mark Allerton avatar

    Mark Allerton

    January 31, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Dear Jane,
    How extraordinary. What an elegant and lovely Miss January you have given us. I have seen an arc display only once, and remember both how hypnotic it was, how frustrating that I didn’t have a camera, and how terrible my sketch looks.

    Nature is so vast that from our puny perspective it can be cruel and beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing such sublimity with us.

  • Bryan Parker avatar

    Bryan Parker

    February 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Very nice Jane, glad you were there to capture it

  • Eileen Fuchs avatar

    Eileen Fuchs

    February 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    How fortunate to experience such a beautiful sight.

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