It wasn’t an upside-down rainbow or aliens.
What one Chilliwack elementary school class saw in the sky was a sun halo.
The sight was spotted by Cheam Elementary teacher Monica Little and her Grade 1 and 2 students on Wednesday, June 1 at lunchtime.
At first, they thought it was an upside-down rainbow since they weren’t looking directly at the sun and could only see the bottom half. But when they shielded their eyes, they realized what looked like a rainbow was encircling the sun.
“A sun halo is caused by the refraction, reflection, and dispersion of light through ice particles suspended within thin, wispy, high altitude cirrus or cirrostratus clouds,” according to a Farmers’ Almanac description. “As light passes through these hexagon-shaped ice crystals, it is bent at a 22-degree angle, creating a circular halo around the sun.”
When the kids discussed the sun halo the next day, one said they thought it might have been two rainbows fused together, another commented it might be a shield for the sun, while another student said maybe it was a portal leading to space.
Some jokingly said that the sun halo must have been created by aliens.
Little pointed out that the sun had more than one ring around it and it lasted for about 20 minutes.
The sighting came soon after her class had learned about light and sound, including light refraction.
The prism effect of light passing through these six-sided ice crystals also separates the light into its various colour frequencies, making the halo look like a very pale rainbow, with red on the inside and blue on the outside, the Almanac stated.
“We were privileged to see this just above our portable,” Little said. “What an interesting phenomenon.”