You Asked 4 It: What's the deal with the sun dog? | KOB 4

You Asked 4 It: What's the deal with the sun dog?

Eddie Garcia
March 08, 2018 06:23 PM

Are you curious about the science of weather? Here's your chance. Just Ask 4 It!


Go ahead and send your video question to Share 4 at You can ask any weather question, but be sure to keep it shorter than 15 seconds and you'll have the chance to make it on the news.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico gets nearly 300 days of sunshine per year. KOB viewer Rusty has a question about a strange phenomenon that can appear right alongside the sun.

"I have a question about the sun dog," he said. What is it and what does it consist of?"

Rusty asked for it, and here is the answer. Quite simply, a sun dog is what appears to be a duplicate sun in the sky. Its scientific name is a parhelion.

Sometimes there's one sun dog but there can also be two, which appear on either side of the sun. The sun is obviously not duplicating itself. Many times there is no sun dog at all.

It turns out there's more going on here than meets the eye. A sun dog is an optical illusion caused by the refraction and scattering of light. They're often seen during colder weather but can appear any time of year.

During the right conditions, ice crystals in the atmosphere, which are often suspended in the clouds, act as prisms bending the sun's light rays. The sunlight is then refracted horizontally, creating duplicate suns to the left and right of the sun.  Sun dogs are most noticeable when the sun is near the horizon.


Eddie Garcia

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