The effect is caused by ice crystals in high cirrus clouds and is the first time that I have seen it in the heat of Africa, and around the sun. It is common to see the ring around a full moon, when it is referred to as a Hunter’s Moon, however, as the heat from the summer sun is very hot, and will therefore melt ice crystals as they form, it is rare to see in southern Africa.
I wanted a bit more information about the effect and so a Google search. There wasn’t much in the way of technical information, but there were some funny stories about our northern neighbours in Guatengaleng (those that aren’t rubber necking on Boyes Drive anyway). Aparently there were a flood of calls to authorities claiming things from aliens in the sky to it being the end of the world. Apparently the sacrifice of a few virgins was considered but they couldn’t find any so all went back to work.
According to the best weather reader in the world, climatologist Christina Fatti (seriously, do yourself a favour and watch Ms Fatti on SABC3, she is so nervous that we hold our breath and then cheer in our house when she makes it through unscathed- she must really want the job, because it looks like it may not be the most enjoyable part of her day) the colours are caused by the ice crystals falling in the atmosphere. If they weren’t then the ring would be white.
I suppose that it is likely that this is linked to the approaching cold front that is due to hit the west coast tomorrow.