In an earlier post I promised to talk about sundogs, which I said once looked like a “crystal fortress in the sky.” Somebody read that and called me out on the fact that I hadn’t followed up.
Well, there you are. Sundogs. As is the case with everything in the sky, a picture just ain’t the same. A couple of inches on a computer monitor just can’t compare with a light show that spans a significant chunk of the sky. The first time I saw them was in Fairbanks, Alaska when I was in the seventh grade, which would have put this in the spring of 1964 unless I counted wrong. It was at “Old Main”, and pretty much the whole school let out to go watch them. It’s a cold weather phenomenon, as it has to do with the sun shining through suspended ice particles. As with rainbows and Auroras, there are a few really memorable ones for a lot of ho-hum ones. Sundogs actually happen a couple of times a week somewhere on the planet, but I’d imagine most of them are just so-so. I’ve seen them twice, but that first one, back in seventh grade, was absolutely spectacular. The sun was high enough to see all four points, and each one of the points had it’s own four bright points. The outer ring was also visible. The part that you can’t describe is that it looked like a solid structure, and I couldn’t imagine how it stayed up in the sky.
Notice that unlike rainbows or a pilot’s glory, the rings surround the sun and your shadow is behind you instead of the other way around.