Tag Archives: sundogs

Look up in the sky!

You may never seen a halo around the sun or a sundog next to it, but they’re actually quite common. You just have to look up. (Just don’t stare at the sun!) I usually keep an eye out for sun halos whenever there’s a thin cloud layer, since there usually aren’t ice crystals near the ground in LA, but the upper atmosphere is a lot colder.

Sun Halo

I actually wasn’t looking for this halo. I just happened to look up toward the tree across the street and *wham* – there it was.

Sundog above palm trees.

A post shared by Kelson Vibber (@kelsonv) on

Just one day later, I saw a fainter halo while walking to lunch…and noticed this rainbow-like sundog off to the right of the sun. I tried to take another shot with my sunglass lens in front of the phone, but fumbled it, and by the time I fixed the settings, it was gone.

You don’t even have to be outside — a few weeks ago I posted a view through an office window. But you do have to look up once in a while!

Sundog, Saddleback, Clouds and Dust

Saddleback, Sundog, Clouds and Dust

Seen from near LAX through an office window. The Santa Ana winds have cleared away the smog, making the view unusually clear (until the dust takes its place).

The sundog near the top of the frame was definitely in the sky and not on the window, and was visible no matter where I moved — I actually had to adjust the angle to avoid a reflection on the window that would have drowned it out! Timing is everything, though: I went to grab a cup of coffee from the break room right after this, and it was already gone when I got back.

Sundog above juniper trees.

juniper-sundog

This stood out starkly when viewed through my polarized sunglasses late Friday afternoon, but disappeared completely into the glare without them. I had to put my sunglasses in front of my phone to get this, and even then I enhanced the color saturation before posting. The sun is off to the left.

Elongated Sundog and Contrail

Elongated Sundog and Contrail

I got off the freeway to catch the train out to the office last Tuesday morning, and saw this incredibly bright sundog off to the east. I couldn’t get a parking space, so I had to drive the rest of the way, but I did get a couple of photos.

The sun is off-frame to the right.

I’m not sure why the bright patch was so elongated and well-defined. My guess is that a smaller cloud in the foreground happened to be in exactly the right spot to reflect the sunlight.

I had to shorten the exposure in order to actually get some detail on here, like the bit of color spectrum in the middle.

Contrail Shadow, Halo, Haze & Sundog

Contrail Shadow & Cirrus Clouds

While driving around lunchtime, I saw an airplane pass overhead, its contrail casting a shadow on the thin cloud layer below. I had my camera handy, and was stopped at an intersection, so I snapped a couple of shots. As often seems to happen, the first, haphazard one was the best.

The diagonal line extending down from the sun is, I believe, a sun pillar-like effect in the trails left by the windshield wipers. Also: Unless I’m mistaken, you can just barely see the edge of a halo in the feathery clouds at bottom center. It’s the slight reddening.

A few hours earlier, I saw this:

Halo, Haze & Sundog

I glanced out the window while changing lanes on the freeway this morning & noticed the bottom edge of this halo. By the time I had a chance to stop the car and really look, the lower arc seemed to have disappeared, but the left side was sharply visible – as was a sundog. I rolled down the window and snapped a couple of photos while waiting for the light to change. Unfortunately, I couldn’t position anything to block the sun, so the exposure isn’t all that great.

By the time I reached my destination and parked, it had all faded except for a slightly bright patch in the clouds to the left.