Looking at these pictures it is perhaps unsurprising that a new Pope has been elected. Thanks to a rare phenomenon the blazing sun has been pictured over Tibet looking as if it is wearing a halo. The bizarre bright ring also makes it look like as though a huge eye is in the sky. Also known as a 'sundog', a solar halo is a distant cousin of a rainbow caused by sunlight shining through a thin layer of cloud called Cirrostratus, which is made up of millions of tiny ice crystals.
Angelic: This incredible halo around the Sun was captured by a Russian photographer as she travelled across the Tibetan desert
The thin cloud cover is up anywhere about 9km above sea level where the temperature is between minus 30C and minus 35C.
The spectacular images were taken by Russian photographer Elena Belozorova who spotted the extraordinary sight while driving to Darchen city.
The 38-year-old from Vologda said it was a truly magical moment.
'I have seen lots of things in my life but I've never seen anything like this before,' she said. The phenonemen is officially called a pathelia but is also known as a 'sundog', 'halo' or 'mock sun'. The sight is more commonly seen when the sun is low in the sky and not in the middle of the day. Cultures around the globe have traditionally given great significance and meaning to a sun dog when they see one.
In medieval times and early aboriginal forecasting halos were a sign of rain on its way - with rain predicted for Friday when the halo will disappear.
How they form: Also known as a 'sundog', a solar halo is a distant cousin of a rainbow caused by sunlight shining through a thin layer of cloud called Cirrostratus, which is made up of millions of tiny ice crystals. 'The light in Tibet is very special, it's fantastic. I've never seen such colours in the sky before. It was all so clear and vivid,' said Ms Belozorova.
'The sky is very changeable, every minute there is a different light or pattern.
'We saw the halo as it was created and transformed. We were stunned.
'Even our guides were totally amazed. It looked like a huge eye and occupied half of the sky.
'It almost looked like the entrance to another world.'
'We were stunned': Miss Belozorova said even her local guides were amazed to see the halo form
Portentous: Cultures around the globe have traditionally given great significance to the phenomena
The papal bill Pope Francis insisted on paying himself... before catching the bus home after winning the election
Pope Francis insisted on returning to his hotel to settle the bill himself. The pontiff also chose to use a bus instead of a chauffeur driven car. The 76-year-old has eschewed ceremonial traditions for a more humble approach. With the spiritual wellbeing of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics is on his shoulders he must have quite a to-do list. But despite his new responsibilities, Francis did not forget to stop off - between engagements - to pay his hotel bill. Staff at the central Rome priests’ residence where Bergoglio was staying before the conclave, were astonished when the newly elected Pope strolled in to collect his luggage and settle the bill. Pope Francis insisted on returning to the hotel to collect his luggage and greet the staff before settling the hotel bill himself. ‘I need to set a good example’ he joked. He was driven to the hotel in a simple car and The Rev. Pawel Rytel-Andrianek, who teaches at the nearby Pontifical Holy Cross University and is staying at the residence, said that workers at the hotel were touched by the Pope's decision to return and bid them farewell. 'He wanted to come here because he wanted to thank the personnel, people who work in this house,' he said. 'He greeted them one by one, no rush, the whole staff, one by one.' Mr Rytel-Andrianek added that Francis apparently knew everyone by name. A Vatican spokesman said: 'He wanted to get his luggage and the bags. He had left everything there.
The Pope also insisted on returning from the election in the minibus rather than in a special papal car
Pope Francis has already displayed his intentions to remain humble and connected to the people
'He then stopped in the office, greeted everyone and decided to pay the bill for the room... because he was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do.'
Francis is already winning plaudits for his down-to-earth manner.
He has so far refused a motorcade and the official papal Jag for official business. And even on the night of the election he insisted on accompanying the other cardinals back to their lodgings, by mini bus, saying: ’I came on the bus, so I’ll go home on the bus.’
Meeting cardinals yesterday on his second day of Papal business he eschewed protocol in favour of kissing on two cheeks, shaking hands and hugging.
He told his deputies that old people like himself are ‘like good wine, getting better with age’, before urging them to impart their wisdom to the young.
The pontiff and his cardinals eschewed ceremonial robes for simple yellow ones during his first Mass
Insiders in the church are already expressing their belief that pope Francis is the right person to remove its scandalous image
Francis began his reign in unorthodox fashion as he shunned public events in order to pray to the Virgin Mary.
During his first Mass since being elected as supreme pontiff, Pope Francis and his cardinals were dressed in simple yellow robes over their cassocks, rather than the formal ceremonial outfits they would normally wear on such a major occasion.
Speaking in Italian without notes, he said: 'We can walk all we want, we can build many things, but if we don't proclaim Jesus Christ, something is wrong. We would become a compassionate NGO and not a Church which is the bride of Christ.
'He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil. When we don't proclaim Jesus Christ, we proclaim the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon.'
Pope Francis chose to visit the Santa Maria Maggiore basilica early on his first full day as the head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics showing his dedication to his role as Bishop of Rome
'We must always walk in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, always trying to live in an irreprehensible way,' he said in a heartfelt homily of a parish priest, loaded with biblical references and simple imagery.
'When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly,' he said
'We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord,' he said. It was a far simpler message than the dense, three-page discourse Benedict delivered in Latin during his first Mass as pope in 2005. The difference in style was a sign of Francis' belief that the Catholic Church needs to be at one with the people it serves and not impose its message on a society that often doesn't want to hear it, Francis' authorised biographer, Sergio Rubin, said. Francis took the helm of the 1.2 billion-member Church at a time of strife and intrigue, with the Vatican rocked by a string of sex abuse scandals, accusations of infighting within its central government and by allegations of financial wrongdoing.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 1998 during a visit to the Villa 21-24 shanty town in Buenos Aires. Pope Francis has expressed his belief that priests should be out on the streets
But many within the church believe he could change it for the better.
'It seems to me for now what is certain is it's a great change of style, which for us isn't a small thing,' Mr Rubin said, recalling how the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio would celebrate Masses with homeless people and prostitutes in Buenos Aires.
'He believes the church has to go to the streets,' he said, 'to express this closeness of the church and this accompaniment with those who are suffering.'
Cardinals sent black smoke signal from Sistine Chapel to show first day of conclave has ended without a new pontiff
Black smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel tonight to signal that the first day of the conclave to elect a new pope has ended without a decision.
Earlier today 115 cardinals were locked behind the heavy wooden door to start discussions for the successor to Benedict XVI following his shock resignation.
But as darkness fell, the dark smoke plumed into the sky over the Vatican in a sign that talks had ended without a decision.
Benedict's resignation has thrown the church into turmoil and exposed deep divisions among cardinals grappling with whether to pick a manager who can clean up the Vatican bureaucracy or a pastor who can inspire Catholics at a time of crisis.
The 115 red-hatted and red-caped cardinals earlier chanted and prayed for divine guidance as they prepared for a conclave to choose a pontiff who will face one of the most difficult periods in the Church's history.
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Treading an uncertain path: Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel to begin the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict
Turbulent times: The 115 cardinals chanted and prayed for divine guidance as they prepared to choose a pontiff who will face one of the most difficult periods in the Church's history
They gathered in the Pauline Chapel and walked in procession along the frescoed halls of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace into the Sistine, where they could remain closeted for several days of balloting.
'The entire Church, united with us in prayer, asks for the grace of the Holy Spirit at this moment so that we elect a worthy shepherd for the entire flock of Christ,' a cardinal said in Latin as the procession began. They then chanted what is known as the 'litany of saints', asking more than 150 saints by name for help in making their choice of who should succeed Benedict XVI, who has withdrawn from public life after his surprise abdication last month. Once inside the Sistine, they took their places along the walls of the frescoed chapel and sang a hymn to the Holy Spirit, asking it to 'visit our minds' during the election process. They then read an oath in Latin, promising to abide by all the rules of the conclave, including not to reveal anything that goes on during the conclave. The cardinals may well decide to cast a first ballot as early as Tuesday night after the doors of the chapel, one of the world's greatest art treasures, are closed and the cardinals are sequestered inside to conduct their secret discussions.
Anticipation: Cardinals, in red, process through St Peter's Basilica during a mass before they enter the Sistine Chapel to elect the next pope
Pomp and circumstance: Cardinals attend a mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican before entering the Sistine Chapel for conclave to elect the next pope
If they vote, the first outcome is likely to be inconclusive because there is no frontrunner to succeed Benedict, who became the first pope in six centuries to step down, saying he was not strong enough at 85 to confront the woes of a Church whose 1.2 billion members look to Rome for leadership.
Smoke - white for a new pontiff, black after an inconclusive vote - would emerge from the chimney on the Sistine's roof if a ballot were held.
The balloting for the next pontiff will take place under the gaze of the divine presence represented through Michelangelo's fresco of the Last Judgment on the wall behind the altar.
The solemn afternoon procession into the Sistine followed a morning Mass in St. Peter's Basilica where Angelo Sodano, an Italian who is dean of the cardinals, called for unity in the Church, which has been riven with intrigue and scandal, and urged everyone to work with the next pope.
Church in crisis: Many of the 115 cardinal electors who are eligible to vote looked grim as if the burden of the imminent ballot was weighing on them
Differences: The cardinals listen to a final appeal for unity within the church from the dean of the College of Cardinals after a turbulent few weeks for the Vatican
Hopes and prayers: In his homily, Cardinal Angelo Sodano (centre, in red), appealed to his fellow priests to put their differences aside for the good of the church
'My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart,' Sodano said in his homily, receiving warm applause when he thanked 'the beloved and venerable' Benedict.
The former pontiff, who retired on Feb. 28, has excluded himself from public life and was not present on Tuesday.
No clear favourite has emerged to take the helm of the Church, with some prelates calling for a strong manager to control the much criticised Vatican bureaucracy, while others want a powerful pastor to combat growing secularism.
All aboard: American Cardinals (l-r) Sean O'Malley, Keith O'Brien and Timothy Dolan take the bus from the North American College to St Peter's Basilica before they enter Conclave to vote for the next pope
Uncertain times: There is no front-runner, no indication how long voting will last and no sense that a single man has what it takes to fix the church's many problems
In good spirits: Seminarians at the North American College line the road to watch as a bus takes the American Cardinals to St Peter's Basilica after Benedict XVI's shock resignation last month
30 WANNABE POPES SUCKED IN BY FAKE JOB ADVERT ON LINKEDIN
A fake job advert for the role of Pope has been removed from LinkedIn after around 30 applicants submitted pitches to be leader of the Catholic Church.
The original post offered a ‘great opportunity’ for an executive seeking a new challenge, calling for infallible applicants with strong problem-solving skills, as long as they were willing to work Sundays.
Copywriter William Grave said the spoof ad was not a jab at the Holy See, but a ‘fun idea’ he thought would engage people.
He told Metro: ‘If the cardinals at the conclave can’t make their minds up on a new Pope, why not turn to LinkedIn?’
Italy's Angelo Scola and Brazil's Odilo Scherer are spoken of as possible frontrunners.
The former would return the papacy to Italy after 35 years in the hands of Poland's John Paul II and the German Benedict; Scherer would be the first non-European pope since Syrian-born Gregory III in the 8th century.
On the eve of the vote, cardinals offered wildly different assessments of what they were looking for in the next pontiff and how close they were to a decision.
It was evidence that Benedict XVI's surprise resignation has continued to destabilise the church leadership and that his final appeal for unity may go unheeded, at least in the early rounds of voting.
Cardinals held their final closed-door debate yesterday over whether the church needs a manager to clean up the Vatican's bureaucratic mess or a pastor to inspire the 1.2billion faithful in times of crisis.
The fact that not everyone got a chance to speak was a clear sign that there was still unfinished business on the eve of the conclave.
'This time around, there are many different candidates, so it's normal that it's going to take longer than the last time,' Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Chile said.
'There are no groups, no compromises, no alliances, just each one with his conscience voting for the person he thinks is best, which is why I don't think it will be over quickly.'
None of that has prevented a storm of chatter over who is ahead.
Lonely figure: A pilgrim prays in St Peter's Square as cardinals attend mass before entering the conclave
Day to remember: Nuns arrive to attend a mass at St Peter's Basilica on the first day of the conclave
A good day to be inside: The Cardinals will lock themselves away in the Sistine Chapel until they have elected the new pope, who will need at least 77 votes to enter the papacy
Dark clouds ahead: The cardinals have offered wildly different assessments of what they were looking for in the next pontiff and how close they were to a decision
FIND OUT WHO'S NEXT POPE IN BLACK AND WHITE... BY TEXT
White smoke or black smoke? Maybe it's easier just to wait for a text message that a new pope has been elected. A Catholic organisation has set up a website, www.popealarm.com, that lets people register to receive a text or email notification when a pope has been selected. While the process of selecting a new pope is as old as the ages, there are enough changes to the media to make the last papal conclave - in 2005 - seem like ancient history. Another new website, www.adoptacardinal.org, assigns interested people one of the voting cardinals at random to pray for him as he deliberates on a new pope. More than 450,000 people had signed up by Monday. The buzz in the papal stakes swirled around Cardinal Angelo Scola, an Italian seen as favoured by cardinals hoping to shake up the powerful Vatican bureaucracy, and Brazilian cardinal Odilo Scherer, a favourite of Vatican-based insiders intent on preserving the status quo.
Cardinal Scola is affable and Italian, but not from the Italian-centric Vatican bureaucracy called the Curia. That gives him clout with those seeking to reform the nerve centre of the church that has been discredited by revelations of leaks and complaints from cardinals in the field that Rome is inefficient and unresponsive to their needs. Cardinal Scherer seems to be favoured by Latin Americans and the Curia. He has a solid handle on the Vatican's finances, sitting on the governing commission of the Vatican bank, as well as the Holy See's main budget committee. As a non-Italian, the archbishop of Sao Paulo would be expected to name an Italian as secretary of state - the Vatican number two who runs day-to-day affairs - another plus for Vatican-based cardinals who would want one of their own running the shop. The pastoral camp seems to be focusing on two Americans, New York archbishop Timothy Dolan and Boston archbishop Sean O'Malley. Neither has Vatican experience.
Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellet is well-respected, stemming from his job at the important Vatican office that vets bishop appointments.
If the leading names fail to reach the 77 votes required for victory in the first few rounds of balloting, any number of surprise candidates could come to the fore as alternatives. It all starts with the cardinals checking into the Santa Marta residence on the edge of the Vatican gardens.
At 10am local time the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, will lead the celebration of the 'Pro eligendo Pontificie' Mass - the Mass for the election of a pope - inside St Peter's Basilica, joined by the 115 cardinals who will vote.
Stunning surroundings: Inside the Sistine Chapel, where conclave will start at 4.30pm local time today
Ceremony: After another chant calling on the Holy Spirit to intervene, the cardinals take the oath of secrecy inside the Sistine Chapel, followed by a meditation delivered by elderly Maltese cardinal Prosper Grech
This is followed at 4.30pm with a procession into the Sistine Chapel, with the cardinals intoning the Litany of Saints, the hypnotic Gregorian chant imploring the saints to help guide their voting.
After another chant calling on the Holy Spirit to intervene, the cardinals take the oath of secrecy, followed by a meditation delivered by elderly Maltese cardinal Prosper Grech.
Then the master of papal liturgical ceremonies gives the order 'Extra omnes' - 'Everyone out' - and all but those taking part in the conclave leave the chapel's frescoed walls.
During the voting that ensues, each cardinal writes his choice on a rectangular piece of paper inscribed with the words 'Eligo in summen pontificem' - Latin for 'I elect as Supreme Pontiff'.
Holding the folded ballot up in the air, each approaches the altar and places it on a saucer, before tipping it into an oval urn, as he intones these words: 'I call as my witness, Christ the Lord, who will be my judge that my vote is given to the one who, before God, I think should be elected.'