What is a sundog?

Viewer-submitted photo of a sundog on January 27, 2014.
January 27, 2014 9:49:09 AM PST
Brilliant, luminous rings on either side of the sun are refractions of light called sundogs. They make it look like there's more than one sun in the sky or that the sun has a halo around it.

"They're not that rare," ABC7 Meteorologist Phil Schwarz said. "But they were especially vivid this morning."

Sundogs typically appear when the sun's rays are refracted off ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. Those ice crystals act as prism, bending the light rays.

However, in this case, the ice crystals are the result of blowing snow, according to Meteorologist Mike Caplan.

"We saw this exact same phenomenon a couple of weeks ago," Caplan said.

A sundog, which can be written as one word or two, is also called phantom sun or mock sun, while the scientific name is parhelion.

Sundogs can appear at any time, but they are not always as obvious.


Load Comments