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Moon-ring: A rare spectacle
Published on 16 Mar. 2011 2:12 AM IST
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People in most parts of Nagaland set their heads up Tuesday night looking at the moon-ring. Not only in Nagaland did it appear, reports say that even in other parts of the world, people saw this phenomenon. Some even referred the occurrence in connection with the Quake-Tsunami that hit Japan on March 12 and the Super-moon scheduled on March 19.
The moon can produce interesting optical effects when conditions are right. The most common of which are moon rings, moon bows, which are similar to rainbows, moon dogs and moon pillars.
A Ring Around The Moon
The ring around the Moon is caused by the refraction of Moonlight (which of course is reflected sunlight) from ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. The shape of the ice crystals results in a focusing of the light into a ring. Less typical are the halos that may be produced by different angles in the crystals. They can create halos with an angle of 46 degrees.
Moon-ring folklore
Folklore has it that a ring around the moon signifies bad weather is coming, and in many cases this may be true. So how can rings around the moon be a predictor of weather to come? The ice crystals that cover the halo signify high altitude, thin cirrus clouds that normally precede a warm front by one or two days. Typically, a warm front will be associated with a low pressure system which is commonly referred to as a storm. It is believed that the number of stars within a moon halo indicate the number days before bad weather will arrive.
Anatomy of a Moon Halo
The ring that appears around the moon arises from light passing through six-sided ice crystals high in the atmosphere. These ice crystals refract, or bend, light in the same manner that a camera lens bends light. The ring has a diameter of 22°, and sometimes, it is also possible to detect a second ring, 44° diameter.
Thin high cirrus clouds lofting at 20,000 feet or more contain tiny ice crystals that originate from the freezing of super cooled water droplets. These crystals behave like jewels refracting and reflecting in different directions.

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