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Sun dogs (mock suns, phantom suns, or parhelia [Greek "para," beside + "helios, "sun"]) are atmospheric phenomena consisting of a pair of bright spots on either horizontal side on the sun, often co-occurring with a luminous ring known as a 22° halo, created by the refraction of light from plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals either in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds (or, during very cold weather, drifting in the air at low levels, in which case they are called diamond dust). The crystals act as prisms, bending the light rays passing through them with a minimum deflection of 22°. As the crystals gently float downwards with their large hexagonal faces almost horizontal, sunlight is refracted horizontally. They typically appear as two subtly colored patches of light on both sides of the sun, approximately 22° distant but at the same elevation above the horizon. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright; they are most conspicuous when the sun is close to the horizon. Sun dogs are red on the side nearest the Sun, and then the colors grade through orange to blue. However, the colors overlap considerably and are never pure or saturated; they finally merge into the white of the parhelic circle (if it is visible). Since ancient times they have been regarded as harbingers of bad weather; in the Anglo-Cornish dialect they are called weather dogs or weather's eyes (related to a cock's eye, a halo around the sun or the moon). "Sun dogs" may get their name from Norse mythology: "solhunde" (archaic Danish) and "solhund" (archaic Norwegian) meant "sun dog" and "solvarg" (archaic Swedish for "sun wolf" were constellations representing the two wargs, Sköll ("Treachery"), that chase the horses (Árvakr and Alsviðr) that drag the sun's chariot through the sky every day, and Hati ("Enemy, He Who Hates"), that chases Máni, the moon. During the Wars of the Roses, "three suns" appeared before the battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1461, frightening the Yorkist troops, but their commander, the future Edward IV, persuaded them that it represented the three sons of the Duke of York and led them to a decisive victory.
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