While people in large parts of Kolkata were busy voting in the all-important fifth phase of polls, a ‘mysterious’ sight captivated social media chatter for a while, adding several hues to the free-flowing adda sessions common in the bylanes of the city on a lazy holiday. Around 12 noon, several people in Kolkata reported seeing a rainbow halo ring around the sun. The excitement was palpable with people wasting no time to click pictures and Facebook timelines which were so far clogged with voting selfies and election updates, were replaced with several pictures of the sun. Those with DSLRs obviously wanted to have the last say in the matter. Many also reminisced about the time they saw a solar eclipse in Kolkata two decades back, when a diamond ring shaped structure emerged around the sun. Obviously, the millennials had no clue about this!<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The whole natural phenomenon lasted for only a few minutes, but the rumour mills continued to be on full swing. Is doomsday near? Is it a symbol for Didi, that her raj is about to end. Is Kolkata turning into alien land rather than London, as Mamata Banerjee had predicted? Keeping aside all such banter on social media, the actual reasoning behind the phenomenon is rooted in science. Image courtesy Saurabh RoyAccording to Earthsky.org, “Halos around the sun or moon happen when high, thin cirrus clouds are drifting high above your head. Tiny ice crystals in Earth’s atmosphere cause the halos. They do this by refracting and reflecting the light”. Clouds contain millions of tiny ice crystals. The halos are often due to refraction or splitting of light or when light falls on those crystals. However, they have to be aligned with respect to the viewer’s eye for the halo to appear. Hence, each person saw a different version of the same halo even in the brief moments it was seen in Kolkata. Certainly something different to talk about in what is turning out to be a drab day at the polls!

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‘Mysterious’ rainbow halo seen around the sun in Kolkata, here’s what it was