Courtney's Cloud Corner: Sundogs and Halos | weatherology°
By: Meteorologist Courtney Steimann
Updated: Mar 29th 2019

Courtney's Cloud Corner: Sundogs and Halos

As cirrus or cirrostratus clouds are present, so are ice crystals. When the sunlight passes through the ice crystals, the light is refracted. Much like a rainbow, these Sundogs will give a unique color. Sundogs typically can be seen during the winter months, since ice crystals need to be present in order to create the beautiful phenomena. They are also usually found at sunset or sunrise, due to the low angle of the sun. The beams of colorful light will appear 22 degrees to the left, right, or to both sides of the sun. The reason that it’s 22 degrees is because of the angle that the light is refracted from the ice crystal. When the hexagonal plated ice crystal is falling with the flat side horizontal, a Sundog will form.  If the ice crystals changes orientation, so does the type of phenomena that will be discuss.


Another type of phenomena created is halos. Halos are formed when cirrus clouds are present since they compose of ice crystals. Similar to Sundogs, Halos are formed when the light is refracted off of the ice crystals and result in a circular light around the sun or moon. This circle is typically a white hue, but can be seen with color as well. There is another type of optical phenomena that is created not from being refracted, but reflected. Stay tuned, for next weekend we will dive more into that phenomena!

One side of a Sundog.
One side of a Sundog. They can also be seen on the right side or both left and right.
Halo around the sun.
Halos usually appear in a circle around the sun.