An anthelion (plural anthelia, from late Greek ανθηλιος, "opposite the sun") is a rare optical phenomenon appearing on the parhelic circle opposite to the sun as a faint white halo, not unlike a sundog.
How anthelions are formed is disputed. Walter Tape, among others, has argued they are not separate haloes, but simply where various haloes caused by horizontally oriented column-shaped ice crystals coincide on the parhelic circle to create a bright spot. If this theory is correct, anthelia should only appear together with these other haloes.
However, anthelia occurs unaccompanied by other plate crystal haloes, why other scientists have produced alternative explanations. The Dutch professor S.W. Visser proposed they form by two exterior light reflections in quadrangular prisms, while Robert Greenler has suggested two interior reflection in column-shaped crystals produces the phenomenon.
- Earth Science Picture of the Day, April 26, 2006 - Photo of an anthelion and anthelic arcs display in Germany February 2006.