What Causes a Ring Around the Moon? Halo Spotted in Skies Around the U.S.

Social media users in the United States have been posting images of a strange ring that has been visible around the moon. But what is causing this spectacular “moon halo”?

According to the National Weather Service, the phenomenon is the result of moonlight being manipulated by ice crystals in a particular way, producing an optical illusion that looks like a halo.

The tiny, hexagon-shaped ice crystals responsible for the illusion are found at an altitude of around 20,000 feet or higher within thin, wispy cirrus clouds.

Rays of light emitted by the sun are reflected off the moon and enter the Earth’s atmosphere. As the rays pass through the cirrus clouds, they are bent by millions of tiny ice crystals 22 degrees away from their original direction, according to WMC Action News 5 meteorologist Sagay Galindo.

The refraction and reflection of the moonlight off the ice crystals creates a halo with an apparent radius of approximately 22 degrees around the moon.

The halos can appear in any season—occurring several times a year—with the frequency of the optical illusion determined by the amount of cirrus cloud coverage in a given area.

The ice crystals have to positioned and oriented in just the right way in relation to your eyes for the illusion to be visible, EarthSky reported. This means that whenever the illusion is visible, each individual will see it slightly differently.

While these moon halos tend to be white in color, they can also appear like faint rainbows, with red light on the inside and blue light on the outside.

Halos like these are also sometimes visible around the sun. They are the result of the exact same process.

Social media users in California and other locations around the country reported seeing the moon halo on the night of November 29-30.

“This halo around the moon is insane,” said one Twitter user Amber Hinojosa.

“In Los Angeles there’s a mysterious giant ring around the full moon tonight! Very strange and beautiful!” actor Harland Williams tweeted.

The lunar halo is visible on the same night as a full moon. Technically, the moon is considered to be fully illuminated at 4:29 a.m. ET on November 30. But to most people it will appear full for around a day either side of this moment.

A partial penumbral eclipse is also currently visible in North America. These events occur when the moon passes through the diffuse part of the Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra.

moon halo
Stock image of a moon halo.

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Milky Way’s Halo Is Clumpy And Into Recycling


  • The Milky Way is surrounded by a halo of hot gas
  • Researchers used data from a tiny satellite that has been observing the galaxy’s halo
  • The researchers found stronger X-rays in parts with more star formation
  • Studying the halo could shed light on the mystery of the Universe’s missing baryonic matter

Our galaxy has a halo of hot gases around it and a team of researchers found that it’s actually into recycling. What could this mean about the mystery of the universe’s missing baryonic matter?

The Milky Way, just like most disk and elliptical galaxies, is surrounded by what’s known as a “circumgalactic medium” or a halo of hot gas. Our nearby neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, also has this halo. And only recently, a team of researchers found that Andromeda’s halo is actually so massive that it already touches the Milky Way’s.

In a new study funded by NASA’s Astrophysics Division, a team of astronomers discovered that the Milky Way’s halo is actually “clumpy” and, that the galaxy may actually be supplying it with recycled materials from star activity.

For the study, the researchers used the observations of HaloSat, a 4 by 8 by 12 inches mini satellite and was first launched from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2018. Based on the tiny satellite’s observations of the halo, the researchers determined that the Milky Way’s halo has a “disk-like geometry,” with the X-ray emissions being stronger in the parts where there is more star formation, corresponding author Professor Philip Kaaret of the University of Iowa (UI) said in the UI news release.

“That suggests the circumgalactic medium is related to star formation, and it is likely we are seeing gas that previously fell into the Milky Way, made stars, and now is being recycled into the circumgalactic medium,” Kaaret added.

Milky Way A Hubble telescope edge-on view of the ESO 510-G13 galaxy is seen in this undated NASA photograph. The image shows the galaxy”s warped dusty disk and shows how colliding galaxies spawn the formation of new generations of stars. The dust and spiral arms of normal spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, appear flat when viewed edge-on. Photo: Getty Images/NASA

Why does this matter? This is because learning more about the Milky Way’s halo could, in turn, also shed light on a much bigger mystery in the universe. 

The team actually wanted to determine how massive the Milky Way’s halo is, specifically whether it’s many times the size of the galaxy. If it is, then it could provide clues about the baryonic matter that’s been believed to be missing since the universe was born.

“If it’s a huge, extended halo that is many times the size of our galaxy, it could house enough material to solve the missing baryon question,” a NASA news release on the study said.

On the other hand, if the halo turns out to be composed mostly of the recycled material, then it’s unlikely to be hosting the missing baryonic matter, the UI

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The Milky Way galaxy has a clumpy halo

The Milky Way galaxy has a clumpy halo
A mini satellite designed and built at the University of Iowa has determined the Milky Way galaxy is surrounded by a heated, clumpy halo of gas that is continually being supplied by birthing or dying stars in our galaxy. Credit: Blue Canyon Technologies

The Milky Way galaxy is in the recycling business.

University of Iowa astronomers have determined our galaxy is surrounded by a clumpy halo of hot gases that is continually being supplied with material ejected by birthing or dying stars. This heated halo, called the circumgalactic medium (CGM), was the incubator for the Milky Way’s formation some 10 billion years ago and could be where basic matter unaccounted for since the birth of the universe may reside.

The findings come from observations made by HaloSat, one of a class of minisatellites designed and built at Iowa—this one primed to look at the X-rays emitted by the CGM. The researchers conclude the CGM has a disk-like geometry, based on the intensity of X-ray emissions coming from it. The HaloSat minisatellite was launched from the International Space Station in May 2018 and is the first minisatellite funded by NASA’s Astrophysics Division.

“Where the Milky Way is forming stars more vigorously, there are more X-ray emissions from the circumgalactic medium,” says Philip Kaaret, professor in the Iowa Department of Physics and Astronomy and corresponding author on the study, published online in the journal Nature Astronomy. “That suggests the circumgalactic medium is related to star formation, and it is likely we are seeing gas that previously fell into the Milky Way, helped make stars, and now is being recycled into the circumgalactic medium.”

Each galaxy has a CGM, and these regions are crucial to understanding not only how galaxies formed and evolved but also how the universe progressed from a kernel of helium and hydrogen to a cosmological expanse teeming with stars, planets, comets, and all other sorts of celestial constituents.

HaloSat was launched into space in 2018 to search for atomic remnants called baryonic matter believed to be missing since the universe’s birth nearly 14 billion years ago. The satellite has been observing the Milky Way’s CGM for evidence the leftover baryonic matter may reside there.

To do that, Kaaret and his team wanted to get a better handle on the CGM’s configuration.

More specifically, the researchers wanted to find out if the CGM is a huge, extended halo that is many times the size of our galaxy—in which case, it could house the total number of atoms to solve the missing baryon question. But if the CGM is mostly comprised of recycled material, it would be a relatively thin, puffy layer of gas and an unlikely host of the missing baryonic matter.

“What we’ve done is definitely show that there’s a high-density part of the CGM that’s bright in X-rays, that makes lots of X-ray emissions,” Kaaret says. “But there still could be a really big, extended halo that is just dim in X-rays. And it might be harder

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Halo Labs President Katie Field to Present at the 2020 Virtual Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference

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Halo Labs Inc. (“Halo” or the “Company“) (NEO: HALO, OTCQX: AGEEF, Germany: A9KN) has announced its participation in the virtual Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Halo Labs President Katie Field will be presenting an overview of Halo Labs, its recent acquisitions and future vision.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201015005315/en/

Katie Field, President of Halo Labs (Photo: Business Wire)

This year’s virtual Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference will offer entrants all the benefit of an immersive and robust in-person cannabis conference from any remote location. The conference will feature an interactive forum of live and on-demand presentations from top CEOs, investors and leaders in the cannabis space. Guests will have the opportunity to connect with top movers and shakers in the industry from across the globe.

Ms. Field’s executive career as a strategy consultant spans both the private and public sectors. She began her career in the cannabis industry in 2014 to lead and procure the build-out and sale of one of five original, vertically integrated state licenses in Florida. Ms. Field’s expertise stems from her work with notable companies and institutions such as Bain & Company, The Brookings Institution, MariMed and The White House. Subsequently, Ms. Field operated a strategy consulting practice focusing primarily on the cannabis industry. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA with honors from Stanford University.

“In the wake of COVID-19, it is of paramount importance to continue connecting with key industry leaders through a virtual conference,” said Ms. Field. “I’m thrilled to share Halo Labs’ evolution of innovating products and our vision of the future of cannabis with this year’s participants.”

For more information or to register for the conference please visit: www.benzinga.com/events/cannabis/virtual/ or contact Halo Labs directly at [email protected]

About Halo

Halo is a leading, vertically integrated cannabis company that cultivates, extracts, manufactures and distributes quality cannabis flower, oils, and concentrates, and has sold approximately six million grams of oils and concentrates since inception. Halo continues to scale efficiently, partnering with trustworthy leaders in the industry, who value their operational expertise in bringing top-tier products to market. Current growth includes expansion in key markets in the United States and Africa, with planned geographic expansion into U.K. and Canadian markets. With a consumer-centric focus, Halo markets value-driven, branded, and private-label products across multiple product categories. The Company also has acquired a range of software development assets, such as the technology platforms CannPOS, Cannalift, and more recently signed a deal to acquire CannaFeels. Halo also owns the inhalation technology Acudab.

Halo is led by a strong, diverse and innovative management team, with deep industry knowledge and blue-chip experience. The Company is currently operating in the United States in California, Oregon, and Nevada. Internationally, the Company is currently cultivating cannabis at Bophelo Bioscience & Wellness (Pty) Ltd, in Lesotho

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