Sometimes nature is truly mesmerizing.

A Gorgeous Morning View

This morning (July 2nd) was truly a perfect summer morning.  The sun was out, and outside was still cool from the night before. In the sky, I saw something that I had not seen before, a full halo around the sun.  I've seen a sun dog before, but never one that was a full halo! So what is a sun dog, and why do they happen?  Because the views they create are quite stunning!

Photo taken from passenger seat* Melissa/TSM
Photo taken from passenger seat* Melissa/TSM
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What is a Sun Dog?

A sun dog sounds like a dog wearing sunglasses, but as cool of a sight as that would be, the kind of sun dog I'm talking about is a phenomenon where you see a rainbow in the sky near the sun.  Now this rainbow may not be shaped in a bow like a rainbow you typically see after the rain.  Often these rainbows appear to the side of the sun or sometimes all around the sun and look more like a halo.  Sun dogs are similar to moon dogs in this way, you can learn more about moon dogs, here. 

Photo taken from passenger seat* Melissa/TSM
Photo taken from passenger seat* Melissa/TSM
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So how are sun dogs made?  Space explains that like a rainbow a sun dog is made by light refracting off something, in this case, the light is refracting off of ice crystals in the atmosphere.

A sundog is a concentrated patch of sunlight that is occasionally seen to the right or the left of the sun or even on both sides of our star in the sky simultaneously.

Also called mock suns or parhelia, meaning "with the sun," according to the National Weather Service. Sundogs are part of a family of atmospheric optical illusions including moon haloes and the closely related sun haloes. All of these phenomena are caused by the refraction of sunlight by ice crystals in the atmosphere.

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The Meaning of a Sun Dog

So if you see a sun dog in the sky, what does it mean? According to the Farmer's Almanac, sun dogs were a sign of good luck in medieval times.  So if you want to believe a sun dog is good luck, more power to you! I'll take all of the luck I can get!  Farmer's Almanac also explains that typically when you see sun dogs they can also be a sign of rain on the way.

 

KEEP READING: Get answers to 51 of the most frequently asked weather questions...