Monday, February 8, 2010

Sundog Days of Winter

"Dazzle mine eyes, or do I see three suns?"
Shakespeare - Henry VI, Part 3

The word sun dog (or sundog) originates from the Greek word par─ôlion, meaning "beside the sun". The scientific name is parhelion, plural parhelia. It's essentially a phenomenon in the atmosphere formed by plate shaped hexagonal ice crystals (in high and cold cirrus clouds) that create bright spots of light, often a luminous ring (or halo), on either side of the Sun. The ice crystals are called diamond dust and drift in the air at a low level. Sundogs orrur when the Sun is at a 45 degree angle and is at its lowest point. Sundogs may appear as a colored patch of light, typically displaying the colors of the rainbow (red closest to the Sun, with orange then blue farthest out) to the left or right of the sun at the same distance above the horizon as the sun. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright. Here in Canada, they are most prevalent during the winter months when the air is coldest and more ice crystals are in the sky.

Below is the first-ever photo of a sundog taken be myself in January 2010.


  1. Hey Colin, nice to see you. Hope all is well with you. How is the baby? Thanks for the info on the sun dog, interesting stuff. Funny, we who just see sun as a light and heat source, don't see any other things about it. Thanks for sharing. Have a good week. Anna :)

  2. Hi Anna. So nice to hear from you. All is well, relatively speaking, thanks. Baby is good. I'm leaning more towards doing informational posts as I learn things instead of just posting my photos. So, look forward to more education down the road. Take care.