Monday, December 15, 2008

Sun dogs!

There are very few, if any, benefits to living in a region where it's not uncommon for temperatures to hit double-digits below zero many times during the winter, with dangerous windchills that can cause frostbite in mere minutes.

But this morning, I witnessed something that may (very) loosely be defined as a benefit: a pair of sun dogs (or parhelia). A sun dog is a brilliant circular spot on a solar halo, and it often occurs in pairs. A sun dog is an atmospheric optical phenomenon associated with reflection of sunlight by ice crystals suspended in the air. The sun dogs appear on each side of the solar halo, connected by a brilliant arc (icebow) that resembles a rainbow, or perhaps more fittingly, a sunbow. The sun dogs this morning were almost as blindingly bright as the sun itself. With subzero temperatures, a low-hanging sun and a clear sky, the conditions this morning apparently were perfect (if you can call weather like this perfect) for the formation of a sun dog.

I happened to see this on my way to daycare this morning, dropped the baby off, then raced back home to grab my camera and head back to a high point to snap some pictures.

If you ever see a sun dog, take a few minutes to savor the moment!


frang said...

Very interesting - and pretty. Also, interesting article and photos at Wiki.

Joanne said...

Well I wonder if that's what I've heard people refer to as white rainbows. Did you see Jupiter and Venus the other week on either side of a horizontal quarter moon such that it looked like a smiley face? Joanne

Jennifer said...

Very cool!

Julie and Dean said...

WOW that is amazing. I think MN had the best blue skies anywhere. I actually didn't mind the cold (ok that's not entirely true) but it was worth it for MN's beauty.

JAndzulis said...

That is AWESOME!!