UPDATE, 12:37 a.m.: This story was updated to make the description of what was happening in the sky scientifically not wrong.
It’s cool, though it’s not technically a rainbow — we originally thought it was a moonbow (and then a moon dog), but it appears the technical term for what’s going on is “a ring around the Moon.” Some guy named Keith has extensive explanations of these phenomena on his website.
The collective genius of Wikipedia says this phenomenon is “caused by refraction of the light from the full moon in the ice particles floating in the clouds, as opposed to a rainbow, where light refracts in the water vapor that makes up the clouds.”
Students near South Campus Commons were overheard saying things like “whoa” and “holy shit,” and a quick check of social media yields descriptions like “awesomeee,” “sickk,” and, more curiously, “rings around moon bittersweet doom warm milk empty room turntable crackles mysterious tune.”
It is also, according to MSNBC, the smallest full moon of 2011. Go figure.
We’d have taken a picture of it for you, but it’s surprisingly difficult to photograph a dim, moonlight-based phenomenon with a mangled Blackberry. Go check it out for yourself — all those people standing in the road staring straight up? They’re having more fun than you are. GO! BE ALIVE!