Sun dogs light up the sky


The sun dog is beautiful, but so are the intricate ice patterns on the window. Cold weather may not always be fun but it can produce some amazing effects.

It took me a short while to figure out that those patterns were on the window, and not smoke/steam from the industrial complex being caught by the light of the sun…

But yes, patterns in ice (and in nature as a whole) fascinate me. Try to find a beach with lots of shale/broken up slate - it seems to re-arrange itself into the most fascinating of patterns all on it’s own.

Stone burner!


Isn’t this actually a sun pillar?

Example of sun dogs:


Last Friday had freezing fog in Albuquerque. My wife took a wonderful photo of the sun rising over the football stadium outside of her call center, with one of the best examples of a Sun Dog I’ve ever seen here in NM:


More than you ever wanted to know about the the optics of ice halos (and other atmospheric optics, too - rainbows and glories and crepuscular rays, oh my!) including simulator software that lets you specify conditions, sun angle, etc., and then calculates the resulting halo(es):


Beautiful fractals of frost in the window. Looks strikingly like the Mandelbrot Set. It took me a moment to realize that that wasn’t what the post was about.

Interesting photos and links. I was in Minneapolis last week for work, and saw those. I was so cold and sleepy, I didn’t give it much thought.

I think it’s an image of both - sun pillar rising up out of the setting sun, and a sun dog seen to the right of it.

Whether you get a halo or a sun dog depends on which way the ice crystals are oriented in relation to you.

Does this mean that if I were in a plane directly over the sundog I would see a circle?

Yes, it’s a sun pillar. No sundogs to be seen in this picture.

I suppose you’re referring to that bright streak to the right of the sun? I’m afraid that’s just a wisp of cloud (perhaps a contrail) being lit up. A proper sundog would appear much further to the right/left. As cbrewer314 already pointed out, what we’re seeing here is not a sundog, but a sun pillar.

To all those who would like to learn more about these phenomena and their proper nomenclature, I can cordially recommend paying a visit to the link glenblank posted. There is also a subreddit dedicated to the subject at


Same here. I thought that was a Fractal Mr. Punch near the lower right.

I’ll let myself out.

This topic was automatically closed after 4 days. New replies are no longer allowed.