November 20, 2017

Sundogs greet the Morning on a Winter’s Day

Sundogs greet the morning on a winter's day. Click to enlarge photos.

Occasionally you’ll see sundogs greet the morning on a winter’s day up in our neck of the northern woods. They can be a thing of brilliant beauty when they’re visible low on the horizon like you see in the pictures accompanying today’s post.

My wife captured these shots on her iPad outside her office building the other morning and although it couldn’t capture the wide angle view of both sundogs in one picture, between the two images it’s still easy to picture what the complete view must have been to the naked eye.

With the rising sun captured making its ascent between two mountains the right hand sundog is brilliant as it hovers over the hills to the right. In the second photo it’s complementing mate is equally brilliant against its own mountain backdrop.

Sundogs – often referred to as a mock sun or phantom sun – are atmospheric phenomena which create those bright spots of light on either side of the sun, often accompanied with a luminous halo or ring around the sun itself.

Left-hand sundog against mountain backdrop

They are always 22 degrees distant from the sun and located at the same distance above the horizon as the sun itself. Although sundogs can be found anywhere in the world during any season they’re not always as bright and visible as the ones you see in these pictures. They’re usually best seen and most conspicuous to the eye when the sun is still located low on the horizon like it was the day these were taken.

When we see sundogs greet the morning on a winter’s day up here we usually associate it with an impending change in weather and/or temperatures hovering somewhere over the horizon, and usually the forecasts made by these sundogs turn out to be pretty accurate that way.

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