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Ring around the Rainbow by Aurelia Eden Balkanski

2nd Place - Natural Category

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School: Castilleja School

Teacher: Jonathon Rockman

This photo of a halo was taken in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A halo is an optical phenomena, composed of rings of light that circle the sun, produced by the interaction of light with ice crystals in the atmosphere. This process is different from a rainbow because rainbows are formed from water droplets and appear when the sun is behind the viewpoint of the rainbow. In the case of rainbows, the light is not only refracted, but reflected off the back side of the water droplets and then is refracted once again back out. At high enough altitudes, water vapor condenses and freezes into ice crystals; Jackson Hole is located at an altitude of about 6,000 feet above sea level, making it possible for the halo to appear. Specifically, this is a ring of light observed from a 22 degree angle with the sun, more commonly known as a 22 degree halo. Light is refracted twice when going through an ice crystal; in the case of this halo, the refractions bend the light by 22 degrees. Light passing through ice crystals acts very similar to light through a prism; the light enters the crystal at an angle, and different colors of light are refracted out of the crystal at different angles.

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