In the past few weeks, I’ve observed and photographed a few patches of light in the sky called sundogs.

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A sundog is created when ice crystals sink through the atmosphere and become vertically aligned, refracting the sunlight horizontally.  Their scientific name is parhelion from the Greek parēlion, meaning “beside the sun.”

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Sundog with sunset


Speculation is that they were called sundogs because they follow the sun like a dog follows its master.

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Sundog peeking through the clouds


This next one is amazing!  I have never seen one look like this.

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Amazing Sundog



Like a sunset, no two sundogs are alike.



54 thoughts on “Sundogs

  1. Thank you for explaining that Donna. We saw a very similar phenomenon over Lake Geneva when we lived in Mont Pèlerin, which is about 300m (height wise) above the lake. We thought it must be some type of rainbow, but it wasn’t actually raining at the time. It was similar to your 2nd picture. You learn something new every day… 🙂

  2. These are really cool, Donna! There is just something about skies that capture us all, and as you say, no two views are ever the same. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I proved my point when I said previously: “You are the sunset expert …you know sunsets” 🙂

  4. I love this phenomenon and realize I have seen them in summer, and watched one in awe one year, wondering what on earth it was. Thank you for clarifying this because I usually associate them with winter. Very pretty.

    • I’m kind of surprised so many haven’t seen/heard of them before. As a kid, I remember seeing them and we thought how funny a name they were. 🙂 There is technical info on them that they are usually about 22 degrees east or west of the sun and more common later in the day. Start looking, my friend, I hope you see one!

  5. Love your photos of the sundog. And yes, I have also seen these prismatic effects in the clouds of late.
    Do you have an explanation, or have you seen these column-like clouds that have been appearing also? Obviously they are cumulus clouds, but very vertical. It’s hard to miss them as I’m driving along Rt 50 with miles of farmland on either side of the road.

    • Thank you, Patti! I’ve seen those column clouds too, I took some photos of clouds like that from the balcony last week. They are pretty and neat-looking, but not sure why they do that. I wondered if they were building with moisture into a thunderstorm cell. But I don’t know, lol, that was my guess! 😊

  6. Interesting! I’ve seen these this year for the first time ever (if my memory serves, which these days is not a given) – extraordinary patches of bright colour and sheens on the clouds. Apparently a high-summer phenomenon. I was relieved to find out plenty of info online, served on a plate by way of research…

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