Sun halo over Cork, Ireland
© Robert Falvey
Aliens, weird cloud formations or just optical illusions - many people across the Rebel County have been asking about the giant rings seen around the sun today.

The rings, which appeared in the sky around lunchtime and persisted for a few hours, caught the eye of many an amateur astronomer, including Robert Falvey, who took a few pics on them while on his 2km walk on the Commons Road on the northside of the city.

And Robert wasn't the only Leesider looking to the sky and wondering what was going on, if social media is any guide.

Robert reckoned they were "weird and amazing" asked CorkBeo to look into it, so we asked Caoimhin de Bhailis of Blackrock Castle Observatory who came up with the scientific explanation.

Caoimhin explained that these relatively rare rings are known as 22-Degree Halos (so-called because the rings have a radius of approximately 22 degrees around the sun or moon) bouncing off high cirrus clouds around 20,000 feet above our heads.

"These clouds can hold millions of tiny ice crystals, even on a warm day because they are so high, and the halos you see are caused by light bouncing off the crystals."

"It's not a really rare phenomenon, but it's rarer than rainbows and can look very spectacular."