Sun Dogs

For those who were concerned that the world ended after I took those pictures of the "split suns" (as I called them...) no worries, I'm still alive and well, and the sun has returned to one single unit.

Sun dogs are formed by the refraction of the sun's rays through a very specific type of ice crystal in the air. These crystals, called plates, are hexagonal (they have six sides), are quite flat, and slowly settle to the ground in a similar manner to maple leaves, wobbling back and forth somewhat, with the flat sides horizontal. These crystals grow in temperatures between -9° and -20° C. (15-25° F.). Temperature inversions, though, often allow sun dogs to be visible when it's much colder than that at ground level.
- ExploreNorth
And for those interested in a little longer explanation, I suggest looking here (it's even illustrated!)

From what I can tell, I really lucked out catching these guys the way I did on my little Canon point-and-shoot.

I saw them when I was driving from my home to work one afternoon, and looked towards one direction, and marveled at how bright the sun was. I then turned a corner, and thought to myself... its like the sun is getting even brighter! Then I realized I was looking at TWO different suns (hence me calling it "split suns") and it wasn't until I got back to the building that I could see all three in their glory.

I had no idea what it was, and asked co-worker 1 if he'd ever seen anything like this before, and his reply was it was no big deal and that by January there'd be like 8 or 9 of them in the sky.

I then pointed them out to serious co-worker 2 (hoping I might get a better answer) and he nonchalantly said "Yah, well we have like several suns up here in the north, and sometimes they all come out"

Gullible Jackie goes: "Ohhhhh, okay." Then shakes her head and goes "You LIE! That's not possible!!!"

Finally coworker 3 tells me they are sun dogs. Right like that means anything to little ol' me.

Turns out you actually can see them in the south, when the conditions are right... but are more common and clear up here.

So there you go. Sun dogs and Northern Lights. Two of the rare and beautiful things I have seen so far in the north. I'm sure there are many more to come.


Rob & Tina December 8, 2007 at 8:55 PM  

Thanks for fixing the link to the pictures. Did you get my friend request on Facebook? We haven't seen the sun dogs here yet. I hope we do soon!