MANATEE -- There was a halo around the sun Monday, a 360-degree rainbow circle caused by atmospheric conditions and the reflection of light.
That's according to Chris Williamson, science teacher at Lakewood Ranch High School and David Barnes, a natural science instructor at State College of Florida.
It's the same principle as a rainbow created during a rain shower, except the halo Monday was caused by ice crystals high in the atmosphere, Barnes said.
It signifies moisture from an approaching weather front, Barnes said.
There is a 30 percent chance of rain today, a 40 percent chance on Wednesday and much higher chance on Thursday and Friday, said Mike Clay, BayNews9 meteorologist.
The halo effect around the sun is more common in the fall and winter when the Jet Stream dips further south, but it is always freezing in the troposphere, said Jeff Rodgers, director of the Bishop Planetarium in Bradenton.
Anytime anything unusual happens in the sky, Rodgers said he receives phone calls from the public.
"I usually get a lot of UFO calls," he said, adding that the halo around the sun is not so unusual.
Not even in the same galaxy of rarity, so to speak, as the transit of the planet Venus across the sun, set to begin about 6:04 p.m. today.
As with any viewing involving the sun, caution is needed to avoid blindness, Rodgers said.
The viewing won't be the best from downtown Bradenton, and Rodgers plans to watch it from Anna Maria Island.
The Deep Sky Observer group will be setting up their telescopes on the south pier of the Sunshine Skyway starting at 5:30 p.m.
To safely watch the Venus transit, be sure to use a welding hood with a No. 14 or darker filter or view through a telescope with an appropriate solar filter.
For ways to safely view the transit, visit Rodgers' Stelliferous blog at http://www.southfloridamuseum.org/ThePlanetarium/StelliferousJeffRodgersStarBlog.aspx.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet@jajones1