Cirrus clouds create 22-degree sun halo in the sky Sunday afternoon

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A veil of high and mid-level clouds spreading across the Tennessee Valley Sunday was the perfect setup to see a rare sight in the sky.

Several WHNT News 19 viewers, including Ramona Edwards and Tressi Downs, shared pictures with us of a large ring around the sun. Swipe through the gallery below to see their photos.

This optical feature is called a 22-degree sun halo.

Earthsky.org explains it very simply: “Halos are a sign of high thin cirrus clouds drifting 20,000 feet or more above our heads. These clouds contain millions of tiny ice crystals. The halos you see are caused by both refraction, or splitting of light, and also by reflection, or glints of light from these ice crystals.”

It is called a 22-degree halo because the ring has a radius of approximately 22 degrees around the sun or moon.

Sun halo today over East Alabama… Photo from @mmmiklik

A post shared by James Spann (@spannpix) on

You might hear that rain is to be expected soon if you see a halo around the sun or moon. Our next chance of showers returns to the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday.

Click here to read the forecast discussion.