Sundog Above the North Island of New Zealand

November 21, 2006


Provided and copyright by: Sabine Loebbe ; Sabine's web site
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster, Sabine Loebbe

The photo above showing a jaunty sundog (parhelion) was taken over the North Island of New Zealand on March 27, 2006. Sundogs form from refraction and reflection of sunlight through hexagonal plate shaped ice crystals in cirrus type clouds. The clouds in the foreground are cumulus and not cirrus clouds. However, note that the cloud that's actually colored has a smoother structure and more diffuse edge than the rather ragged white cumulus clouds appearing in front of the colored patch. This is typical where sundogs are viewed through gaps in lower level clouds.

At the time this picture was snapped, the Sun (not shown) was in front of the camera. Thus this splash of light isn't at all related to a rainbow, which is caused by the reflection and refraction of sunlight in raindrops.

Related Links: