Sun Lords dancing across the sky

Donna Rumbaugh | Managing Editor

Along with temperatures that generally come with January, so do light shows that bring interest to young and old alike.  On Wednesday, January 5 a beautiful display of light refraction was the talk of the day known as sundogs or parhelion.  

Sundogs are caused by the light of the sun reflecting from ice crystals suspended in cirrus clouds due to freezing moist air.  When the ice crystal hang in the air, the sun, as it rises creates the illusion of spheric rainbows circling the sun.  As the sun rises to a higher point, the prisms eventually disappear.  At night, when the halo forms around the moon, it is called, of course, moondogs, or paraselene.

Folklore indicates that a storm is on the way when the dogs appear.  Probably due to the moisture in the air freezing and causing the reflections.  This was true centuries ago, and it usually holds true today.  While rainbows in the summer signal the end of precipitation, sundogs are a good indicator that the weather conditions are likely to change in 24-48 hours and precipitation is coming.  That being said, the weatherman tonight said no snow for the next 10 days.

Rainbows are formed when the moisture in the air reflects away from the sun, while sundogs are seen when you look to the sun.

Some believe that the story of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun, which occurred on the 13th of October 1917 could be related to sundogs.  It is said that on that day, the sky cleared, the ground was dry, and the sun began dancing around in the sky.  The story claims there were radiant colors of multicolored lights in the sky that lasted for many minutes before fading away.  To this day, the city of Fatima receives parades of visitors every year, numbering in the millions, to witness the place where the Miracle of the Sun took place and the Virgin Mary visited three young children to reveal to them Three Secrets which told of Hell, War, and the shooting of Pope John Paul II.

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