Garrett’s Blog: Rare Sight Over NWA This Morning

Photo: Cherie Clark December 10th, 2013

Photo: Cherie Clark December 10th, 2013

Did you happen to catch a glimpse of the sun this morning? It appeared there were 3 bright suns around the rising Sun enshrouded by a circle.

This was an optical phenomena known as Paranthelion or Parhelic Circle when a ring appears in conjunction to the bright spots around the sun. Colloquially it’s known as a ‘sun dog’.

It’s something that typically only forms in cold climates; especially the polar and arctic regions. They form due to an abundance of ice crystals suspended with atmosphere. As the sunlight hits them their plate crystals which are a hexagonal shape bend and reflect the light.

Photo: Melissa Jones. December 10th 2013

Photo: Melissa Jones. December 10th 2013

The false suns appear at the same altitude as the Sun and at 60º or 120º. Parhelic Circles are even more uncommon and usually only occur when there is abundant ice crystals and reflecting of light. This was the case earlier this morning in Northwest Arkansas. Because the ice crystals are reflecting light the ring is the same color as the sun.

-Garrett

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