“Sun dog” phenomenon catches eye of Central Texans

A sun dog seen in south Austin Nov. 13, 2017 (Courtesy Lee Sherrod)
A sun dog seen in south Austin Nov. 13, 2017 (Courtesy Lee Sherrod)

A fairly common, but spectacular property of optical physics prompted a flood of pictures from our KXAN viewers on Monday afternoon.

The small rainbow feature that appeared on the sides, top or bottom of the sun yesterday is known as a “sun dog.” This occurs only when the sunshine is filtered through high, thin cirrus clouds.

Optical physics says that when light is refracted at a 22.5° angle by the ice crystals that make up the cirrus clouds, it produces a small rainbow to those of us on Earth. According to the National Weather Service, the colors usually go from red closest to the sun, out to blue on the outside of the sun dog.

We always love seeing your pictures! Send them to reportit@kxan.com, with one click through our KXAN Weather app or by uploading them to the KXAN website.

A sun dog seen in the Austin area on Nov. 13, 2017 (Courtesy Barry Dreyling)
A sun dog seen in the Austin area on Nov. 13, 2017 (Courtesy Barry Dreyling)

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