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No. 70: Jul-Aug 1990

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Elliptical Halos

Original drawing of the halo of Hissink, observed at Leiden
Original drawing of the halo of Hissink, observed at Leiden. January 26, 1977.
In the catalog Rare Halos, Mirages, Anomalous Rainbows, we list nine cases of elliptical halos. Such observations are anomalous becaouse the only wellexplained elliptical halo is formed when the lower and upper tangential arcs of a 22 halo join together. Possibly because of the absence of appropriate theory, R. White, in 1981, suggested that the observations recorded in GEH2 were only the consequences of observational error or inaccuracy in representation of the phenomenon. (This assertion is well-known to all anomalists!) Recently, however, several elliptical halos have graced the skies of Finland. We provide below a summary of these observations, as prepared by J. Hakuma ki and M. Pekkola. First, though, we express appreciation to Hakumaki and Pekkola for a paragraph headlined SOURCEBOOK PROJECT ANOMALIES, where in effect they vindicate the approach of the Project.

We now quote from the summary of their article.

"In December 1987 two Finnish amateur astronomers observed and photographed a peculiar vertically elliptical ring surrounding the moon. A literature study carried out soon after this first observation brought to light ten reported historical cases of this type of rare halo phenomenon. It was found out that the existence of these elliptical halos has been uncertain to date due to a lack of photographic evidence. One indication of this is that none of the major modern works on halos mentions such phenomena. During 1988 three more elliptical halos were seen by the Finnish halo observing network. Observations and photographs taken of these phenomena seem to indicate that at least two types of elliptical halo exist. The smaller one was first reported by US astronomer Frank Schlesinger in 1908 and its vertical axis has in all four possible cases been about 7. No name has been suggested for this halo. The larger one seems to have a vertical axis of about 10 and it has been called the 'halo of Hissink' by Dutch halo observers. Outside the Netherlands this rare halo has received little attention."

(Hakumaki, J., and Pekkola, M.; "Rare Vertically Elliptical Halos," Weather, 44: 466, 1989.)

Reference. Other types of noncircular halos may be found in GEH2 in our catalog: Rare Halos, Mirages. For more information on this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #70, JUL-AUG 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987