Just recently, NASA had the pleasure of sharing an utterly captivating image with the world. This stunning photograph captured a truly mesmerizing ice halo encircling the radiant sun, against the backdrop of a snowy landscape in beautiful Bavaria, Germany. The focal point of this picturesque scene is none other than a charming church, which finds itself enveloped by enchanting rings of light. Such a sight is so ethereal and captivating that it has even been compared to the enchanting creations of Elsa, the beloved snow queen.
Ice halos, a peculiar natural phenomenon brought about by frozen water crystals hanging in the atmosphere, are not commonly seen. These halos come in different sizes and shapes, capturing the attention of both photography enthusiasts and avid sky observers. The fascination deepens when one manages to capture multiple rings within a single frame, adding an extra element of amazement to this specific image.
The photograph, taken earlier this month by German photographer Bastian Werner, quickly gained attention on social media. Werner described the moment as a “perfect motif” and deemed it “very rare.” In his Instagram post, he shared the excitement of discovering the ice fog while navigating deep snow near the charming chapel.
NASA chose this amazing photo to be its Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), highlighting the phenomenon’s scientific significance and beauty. Space Agency described the photo as “one of the greatest spectacles” and provided an explanation of the science underlying the production of these “unusual sky arcs.”
Under cold temperatures, water suspended in the air freezes into ice, creating a faint fog. These ice particles remain suspended, catching sunlight. The sunlight reflects and refracts as it hits the crystals, resulting in the formation of ice halos—a remarkable optical phenomenon that can manifest as rings, arcs, or even spots in the sky.
In this specific image, two prominent ice halos are visible—the 22-degree halo and the higher 46-degree halo. Additionally, multiple arcs, including a horizontal arc parallel to the ground and a rare heliac arc connecting the top arc to the sun, contribute to the overall celestial spectacle. NASA emphasized the rarity of the heliac arc, making this photograph a truly exceptional and scientifically valuable addition to the Astronomy Picture of the Day collection.