It begins the getting-ready-for bed ritual:
go outside,
feel the air,
look long and deeply into the sky,
try to take in the beauty,
the vastness,
the wonder.
When I did this two nights ago
I was stunned
by what I saw.
A couple of years ago,
the night before a major ice storm,
I had seen a very large white halo
circling the moon
and learned then

A lunar halo is caused by the refraction, reflection, and dispersion of light through ice particles suspended within thin, wispy, high altitude cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. As light passes through these hexagon-shaped ice crystals, it is bent at a 22 degree angle, creating a halo 22 degrees in radius (or 44 degrees in diameter). A double halo, sometimes with spokes, may be seen on rare occasions when light reflects off water or ice.

The prism effect of light passing through these six-sided ice crystals separates the light into its various colors, resulting in a halo tinged with very pale rainbow colors with red on the inside and blue on the outside. The phenomenon of a lunar halo is similar to a rainbow produced by sunlight and rain falling between your eye and the sun.

The Farmer’s Almanac

This time,
instead of a white halo,
there was a yellow-to-orange halo
tinged on the outer rim
with purple.
I rushed into the house for the camera
and captured a fuzzy halo,
then went back for the tripod
and returned to discover the clouds were moving;
I caught pieces of the halo
as it disappeared.
I stood there then,
overwhelmed by the beauty
and a bit unsettled
by such a dramatic event
I’d never seen before.
Grateful too,
to have stepped outside
the moment I did.
Settled  in bed a bit later,
I suddenly felt the urge
to go back outside.
This time, I responded (I don’t always);
climbed out from the warm blankets
and walked in socked-feet outside
And there it was:
another yellow-orange-purple lunar halo.
I made another photograph,
but this time there was no halo
in the image I captured.
I put the camera aside
and just stood
in awe
and wonder,
growing more comfortable
with the rare and amazing things that happen
in the sky.