“I will praise [thee], O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.”
We’ve all seen a misty halo around the sun or the moon. The halo is caused when light from the sun or the moon shines through ice, high in the atmosphere. Ice crystals, of course, are hexagonal, or six-sided. And for this reason, the halo always appears at an angle of 22 degrees away from the sun or moon.
However, all isn’t as simple as it seems. A rare halo around the sun or the moon sometimes appears at 28 degrees instead of 22 degrees. But don’t stay up late gazing at the full moon to see it. This halo, called Scheiner’s halo, has been reported only seven times in the last 350 years. Scientists know that such a halo could be caused by octahedral, or eight-sided crystals. What crystals could cause this 28 degree halo? The mystery was recently solved by scientists working with cubic ice. Cubic ice is an unusual form of water ice. When water is frozen at temperatures of 100 below zero it forms octahedral instead of hexagonal crystals. They used a little math to show that octahedral water crystals could cause Scheiner’s halo. Scientists are now trying to discover whether conditions in the upper atmosphere could actually form cubic ice.
Every detail of the creation shows a tiny facet of the wondrous mind of God. Cubic ice shows us there is no limit to His imagination and creativity.
I thank You, Lord, for the wonder that fills me as I learn about Your marvelous works. When I fail to understand why certain events happen in my life, help me to remember that Your imagination as well as Your power are unlimited. Help me always to place my trust in You rather than in what You have created. Amen.
“An Icy, Cubic Ring Around the Sun.” Science News, Vol. 125, p. 8. Painting: Cristoph Seheiner.