If you're out and about on a cold fall or winter day, look up -- you may see something playfully called a "sun dog."
Do you see the little light on the left side of the photo? Is that the sun? Is that a rainbow? It's neither.
The light in the photo is a "sun dog" that I spotted over the weekend.
Sun dogs are little spots of light that develop when light is refracted through ice crystals in cold clouds.
Sun dogs are usually 22° left or right from the sun.
(It all depends on where the ice crystals are present). Sometimes you can see sun dogs on BOTH sides of the sun.
(Photo via the National Weather Service.)
Sun dogs are sometimes referred to as mock suns or parhelia. Parhelia means "with the sun."
Sometimes sun dogs travel in packs -- they may be coupled with other optical wonders.
There are arcs, sun dogs, a halo, and a sun pillar.
All of these spectacles are created by the interaction of light with ice crystals.
These are fairly common and are best seen at sunrise or sunset.
Did you notice all of the snow in this beautiful photo? While it is possible to see sun dogs, pillars, and the like in the summer, I find that they appear more often in the winter.
As we head into the colder months, try to keep it all in perspective.
Yes, winter in Northeast Ohio can be brutal, but it can also be beautiful.
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