• Outdoors Outdoors

Minnesota resident stunned by rare optical phenomenon over horizon: 'I literally was just going outside'

Sundogs are relatively rare occurrences, and they can only be seen in certain conditions.

Sundog caught on camera

Photo Credit: Newsflare

A Minnesota resident was stunned after spotting a rare optical phenomenon in the sky — and he captured it all on film. Ryan Olson watched and recorded from his home in Woodland Park as a "sundog" appeared on the horizon.

"I was actually quite pleased to be able to get the shot this morning. I literally was just going outside to make a quick TikTok actually and happened to notice that there was a sundog going on," Olson told Newsflare.

What is a sundog?

A sundog is caused when sunlight is refracted through hexagonal ice crystals in thin, icy clouds, creating a prism effect that appears as two bright, colorful spots on either side of the Sun. 

Sundogs, also known as "mock suns," typically appear in pairs on either side of the sun, but on rare occasions can also come in threes or fours. 

Why is it called a sundog?

According to the Farmer's Almanac, the term originated with Greek mythology. 

It was believed that when Zeus walked his dogs across the sky, two "false suns" appeared on either side of the actual sun representing each of his dogs.

How rare are sundogs? 

Sundogs are relatively rare occurrences, and they can only be seen in certain conditions. They require a high sun angle, cold temperatures, and light cirrus clouds that contain millions of plate-shaped ice crystals. 

They are also more common when the sky is partly cloudy or hazy and are often seen in winter months when cold air allows for water vapor to form ice crystals in the atmosphere. 

Why are sundogs cool?

Sundogs are cool because they are a beautiful natural phenomenon that is relatively rare, like catching the Northern Lights or a double rainbow

What's more, sundogs can provide insight into weather patterns, since they are caused by ice crystals in the atmosphere, which can be an indicator of rain or snow. 

Follow The Cool Down on Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

Cool Divider