Portland, Maine Sundog and Tail from Aloft

May 25, 2008

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Provided and copyright by: Shaun Henning
Summary author: Shaun Henning 

The photo above featuring a sundog and its tail was taken from a commercial jet aircraft about 30 minutes west of Portland, Maine around 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on November 12, 2007. We had been cruising at 35,000 feet (10,668 m) and clouds associated with a cold front stretched from beyond Detroit, where we took off, to just outside of Portland. Due to our orientation, this sundog or parhelion was hard to spot, but thanks to an awkward camera angle and some patience, I was able to capture it in all its glory. It almost appears to emanate from the jet engine just a few rows behind my seat. Actually, this engine's helpful occultation of the Sun allowed for a crisp, clean view of not only the parhelion but a portion of a 22 degree solar halo and the a parhelic circle (extended tail of the sundog). The sundog lasted for about 20 minutes and was a breathtaking welcome to the Pine Tree State. As the clouds broke up when we began our descent, the Atlantic seaboard was illuminated by an orange and purple sunset as well as brisk autumn colors upon landing. What an amazing sight for an Arizona resident's first trip to Maine and the U.S. East Coast.