What are Sundogs or Sun dogs?

Sundogs are bright areas that often appear to the left and right of the sun.  The scientific name for sundogs is parhelion. It comes from the Greek word parēlion, meaning "beside the sun." Sundogs are also known as mock suns or phantom suns.  

They can be seen when the sun is low or close to the horizon and the air is filled with ice crystals. Sundogs are caused by the refraction of sunlight by ice crystals present in the clouds. As sunlight passes through the ice crystals, it is bent by 22 degrees before reaching our eyes. This bending of light results in the creation of sundogs.  Sundogs are red coloured towards the sun but the areas further away from the Sun usually appear blue or green.

They are usually observed in places that are covered in snow or ice, such as the Artic, Antarctic, and high mountainous regions.


"Sun dog." Wikipedia. 1 July, 2013. Web. 4 July, 2013.  <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_dog>.

"What are Sun Dogs?" Wisegeek.com. 2013. Web. 4 July, 2013. <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-sun-dogs.htm>.