What Was That Ring Around the Moon?

The MoonThe Moon

Many folks who looked up at the sky last night were greeted with a very bizarre sight: a luminous ring surrounding the moon. Were aliens coming? Was the end of the world at hand? Fortunately, no.

Though it looked ominous, the shiny ring around the moon last night was actually a rather common weather phenomenon. According to various weather-related blogs across the Buzz, this ring around the moon occurs when thin cirrus clouds, which contain ice crystals, refract the moonlight. A blog from the Goddard Space Flight Center explains that “the shape of the ice crystals results in a focusing of the light into a ring. Since the ice crystals typically have the same shape, namely a hexagonal shape, the Moon ring is always the same size.”

Of course, in the moment, many sky watchers didn’t know what the heck was going on, and the resulting avalanche of Web searches reflects their confusion. Queries on “ring around the moon,” “why is there a ring around the moon,” and “ring around moon pictures” all soared into the stratosphere. A news station in Cincinnati reported that…

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