April 20 – Sun Dogs Appear!

Posted on April 20, 2018

Waaaaaay back on this date in 1535, above the town of Stockholm, Sweden, halos, circles, and arcs appeared in the sky. And even more surprising: two bright sunlike spots appeared, one on each side of the sun.

It was as if there were three suns!! 
I'm not sure if the Swedish people who saw these sun dogs were educated enough to know that even ancient Greeks had observed and written about this unusual phenomenon. I imagine that some people were fearful or at least puzzled. I read that some people were sure that it was an omen - either for good future events or for bad ones!

A scholar who also served as the king's chancellor ordered a painting to be made to commemorate the rare sighting. The painting is now referred to as the Sun Dog Painting (in Swedish, Vädersolstavlan), and some think it is the oldest depiction of sun dogs.

Ice crystals high in the atmosphere cause the sun dogs and also halos or arcs near the sun (or, at times, the moon). Sun dogs always appear to the left and right of the sun, never above and below it. And there are always two sun dogs (therefore, apparently three suns), never any other number. (Sometimes one of the sun dogs is blocked from view, of course!)

One of the sun dogs is covered by clouds.

Since it requires ice crystals in the atmosphere, sun dogs are much more likely to be seen in cold places, such as the Arctic or Antarctic, or in winter.

Take a look at some photos of sun dogs:

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