Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sundog (Parhelion) in Umeå

Yesterday morning, 12 October, a sundog or parhelion appeared over the city. I saw it first thing in the morning as I pulled up the window blinds. I noticed some strange lights on both sides of the sun and wondered what kind of phenomenon that was. Later on, it was all over the Swedish online news, with some pictures and explanation of the phenomena.

I looked up for other explanations online and came up with this Wikipedia definition.

"A sun dog or sundog (scientific name parhelion, plural parhelia, from Greek parēlion, (παρήλιον), παρά(beside) + ήλιος(sun), "beside the sun"; also called a mock sun) is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun.
Sundogs may appear as a colored patch of light to the left or right of the sun, 22° distant and at the same distance above the horizon as the sun, and in ice halos. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright. Sundogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the sun is low."

Another source also explains that sundogs are formed when sunlight is refracted by 22 degrees through the flat plates of hexagonal ice crystals.

Here's a National Geographic image of a whole sundog or parhelion.

And here are the ones I captured. I couldn't take the whole view because of the distractions and lack of space in our backyard.

notice the two lights on both sides

left mock sun

taken from our kitchen window

right mock sun

Another marvel of creation that glorifies our Great Creator!