What's a Sundog?

Photo of a sundog.  Copyright Jaclyn Reynolds

Leaving work yesterday, a co-worker and I discovered something strange happening in the sky. I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not so amazing with the earth sciences but luckily we were walking out with a few people who are and were told that we were looking at a "sundog." Curious by nature, I had to figure out what that meant exactly.

I got a clarification from a co-worker and a sundog is actually light that reflects off of ice crystals and forms the little rainbow and light that you see in the photo. Normally there should be another on the other side of the sun but we couldn't see it. It was probably covered by clouds. Going a little further with the help of the NASA web site, I found that specifically a sundog is formed by plate-shaped ice crystals drifting down from the sky like leaves from a tree. (Yes, I copied that entire sentence.)

I'm sure there is a little more to the story but hopefully you enjoyed my detective work and will use this information to wow your friends next time we see a sundog.

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About the Author

Jaclyn Reynolds

Jaclyn Reynolds is the Public Relations and Social Media Manager for COSI. She has worked in communications and PR for more than 14 years. She has worked as a TV news producer in cable news and as a public information officer and communications specialist in state government.

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