On a trip from El Paso to Salt Lake City (around Moab) my husband and I witnessed a most spectacular sight. On both sides of the sun we saw what appeared to be two smaller suns. It was beautiful!!! But we had no idea what we were looking at. We spent the night in Moab and watched the weather to see what was in store for our next day of driving. During his forecast, the weatherman showed a picture of what we had seen earlier. He referred to it as a Sun Dog. Living in Illinois up until 5 yrs ago, I had never heard of this term, nor had I seen anything similar to this. (I think there's a need for a higher altitude than what Illinois has.)
The weather man went on to explain that the presence of a Sun Dog meant that within three days it would snow.
Salt Lake City was really behind in snow and hadn't yet had a good snowfall. So I told my son about the Sun Dog and the weatherman's prediction. Of course, there were just chuckles. But the next day it began to snow ... and didn't stop for a long time. Coinsidence!?!? |
I've been searching the net now for a long time, but haven't been able to come up with much of anything about the Sun Dog ... except for a short explanation and some beautiful pictures. It was the Folklore associated with the Sun Dog that I was really interested in. I'm sure the American Indians must have a mystical explanation for it. And how did that weatherman come up with the story about it snowing within three days of it's presence??
Anyway, I have some beautiful pictures of Sun Dogs and other atmospheric "optics" that i wanted to share. So .... I'll begin with the description:
Either of two colored luminous spots that appear at roughly 22° on both sides of the sun at the same elevation. They are caused by the refraction of sunlight passing through ice crystals. They are most commonly seen during winter in the middle latitudes and are exclusively associated with cirriform clouds. The scientific name for a sun dog is parhelion. They are also known as mock suns.
Similar to the parhelion is a parhelia. It, too, is referred to as a Sun Dog, but it has only one spot that appears at the side.
Photo By AKM