Abstract

Subsuns, Bottlinger's rings, and elliptical halos are simulated by the use of a Monte Carlo model; reflection of sunlight from almost horizontal ice crystals is assumed. Subsuns are circular or elliptical spots seen at the specular reflection point when one flies over cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Bottlinger's rings are rare, almost elliptical rings centered about the subsun. Elliptical halos are small rings of light centered around the Sun or the Moon that rarely occur with other halo phenomena. Subsuns and Bottlinger's rings can be explained by reflection from a single crystal, whereas elliptical halos require reflection from two separate crystals. All three phenomena are colorless and vertically elongated with an eccentricity that increases with increasing solar zenith angle. For several cases of Bottlinger's rings the simulations are compared with density scans of photographs. Clouds that consist of large swinging or gyrating plates and dendritic crystals, which form near −15 °C, seem the most likely candidates to produce the rings and elliptical halos. Meteorological evidence is presented that supports these conditions for elliptical halos. Simulations suggest that the most distinct elliptical halos may be produced by hybrid clouds that contain both horizontal and gyrating crystals.

© 1994 Optical Society of America

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