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February 12, 2010

Driving into the sun can make you squint in pain. Driving into THREE suns can be oddly pleasurable. When I head into work in the morning, I have a considerable stretch that goes straight southeast – right into the sun. Some days, like today, are so cold and crisp and clear that two small extra suns appear to the right and left of the normal sun and at the same altitude as the sun. These sundogs are a magnificent sight, a special sign of the beauty in simple things.

Sundogs, also called Parhelia “beside the sun,” are formed by the reflection of sunlight through billions of tiny ice crystals. If you’re lucky, they are part of a giant thin halo of light around the sun. Reddish on the side closest to the sun and then spreading like a rainbow through yellow, white and blue, sundogs are only one-twentieth the size of the sun. But they can be blindingly bright. They’d be triply annoying if they weren’t so stunning.

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