Astronomy Day (Fall)
"I saw them leading when the beggars came to town, like Sirius-twins at the feet of Orion." ~ Michael Symmons Roberts, Sun-Dogs
A sun dog (or sundog) or mock sun, formally called a parhelion (plural parhelia) in meteorology, is an atmospheric optical phenomenon that consists of a bright spot to the left or right of the Sun. Two sun dogs often flank the Sun within a 22° halo.
A sun dog (or sundog) or mock sun, formally called a parhelion is an atmospheric optical phenomenon caused by the refraction of sunlight by ice crystals in the atmosphere. Sun dogs typically appear as a pair of subtly colored patches of light, around 22° to the left and right of the Sun, and at the same altitude above the horizon as the Sun. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but are not always obvious or bright. Sun dogs are best seen and most conspicuous when the Sun is near the horizon.
Moon dogs are exactly analogous to sun dogs, but are rarer because the Moon must be bright, about quarter moon or more, for the moon dogs to be observed. Moon dogs show little color to the unaided human eye because their light is not bright enough to activate the cone cells.
Sundogs have been noted throughout history by many cultures and often interpreted as omens of ill fortune or cataclysmic events.
The prelude to the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire, England in 1461 is supposed to have involved the appearance of a halo display with three "suns". The Yorkist commander, later Edward IV of England, convinced his initially frightened troops that it represented the three sons of the Duke of York, and Edward's troops won a decisive victory. The event was dramatized by William Shakespeare in King Henry VI, Part 3,
By designer Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan is "representative of the little colourful spots on either side of the sun on cold days in winter."
For the history of the famous Sundog painting of Sweden, Vädersolstavlan, and the event that it commemorates, click the Sundog photo from Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, in the Grand Tetons Mountains.