Move along little (sun) doggie

A sundog (or sun dog) is an atmospheric condition that creates rainbowed patches of light in the sky. Sometimes they’re small arcs, other times they can be complete rings around the sun. ¬†They can accompany thin clouds or appear in seemingly clear skies. Known by the scientific name parhelion (the plural is parhelia) a sundog is caused by sunlight passing through tiny ice crystals suspended high up in the air.

On the sidelines of the UOP women’s soccer game against Sac State at A.A. Stagg Memorial Stadium in Stockton, I overheard one of the young girls who volunteered to shag out-of-bounds balls say to another girl: “It’s back. The rainbow’s back.” Rainbow? I thought. It was a mostly clear sky with only a few wisps of thin clouds. I looked up and to the northwest, and sure enough there was a delicate crescent of a rainbow.

It was somehwere between 7 and 7:30 p.m., and the sun must have been nearly at the horizon (the stadium’s high walls blocked the view of it). As the sun sank lower the sundog slowly faded away, but for a little while, to paraphrase Judy Garland, I was somewhere under the rainbow.

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