Sundogs in the Tennessee Valley

Posted on: 9:59 pm, November 15, 2012, by

This is one of the best sundog pictures I’ve ever gotten into photo@whnt.com (that’s our e-mail address if you’d like to send us your weather photos)! It’s from the area around Owens Elementary School in Athens around 3:00 PM Thursday, November 15th.

What we call a “sundog” has a scientific name of parhelion which is Green for “beside the sun.”

Sundogs (parhelia) occur when sunlight is refracted through hexagonal ice crystals in high cirrus clouds. Those clouds are usually based above 15,000 feet where temperatures are generally well below zero, so when we have a deck of cirrus moving in during the late afternoon, these kinds of light phenomena occur.

Just a few weeks ago (before the meteor stole the show), we had some incredible optical phenomena in the late afternoon thanks to the lowering sun angle and cirrus clouds spread over the Valley by Hurricane Sandy.

-Jason
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