Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sun Dog Sighting

Have you ever seen a sun dog? Despite its strange name, a sun dog has nothing to do with our furry, four-legged friends. It's a weather phenomenon that only occurs on extremely cold winter days. If you live in the South, chances are you might never see a sun dog. But for those of us who have the "privilege" of experiencing single digit to below zero temperatures, the elusive sun dog is not such a rare sight.

Basically, a sun dog, also known as a mock sun or phantom sun (scientific term: parhelion) 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," according to Wikipedia. Sun dogs usually only appear when the temperature is under 10 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes ice crystals in the atmosphere. These tiny ice crystals create halos by refracting and reflecting light. The reflecting light, displaced 22 degrees to the left and right of the sun, is also sometimes called a snow bow.

This glorious display of light reminds me of how great our God is! "Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind." Psalm 104:1-3

If you live in a cold climate, be on the lookout for sun dogs! You have to be an early riser, though, since the best time for viewing sun dogs is at sunrise.

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