Sun Dog Blog

Sun dogs have been around forever, but are rather rare in the Midwest.

It was a beautiful afternoon today so I took my "use it or lose it" walk in Forest Park. (My fitness friends tell me that if I do not exercise daily, I will "lose it" and walking has been shown to prevent dementia by enlarging the hippocampus in the brain). I did my usual route through the trails of the Kennedy Forest and then headed home past Kaldi's Coffee Shop and then along Clayton Rd.

As I approached the intersection of Demun and Clayton, I paused for the crossing guard to escort me across the busy intersection. As I did so, I looked up and saw the sun dog above St Mary's Hospital campus.

Sun dogs have been around for eternity, but are rarely observed, especially in the Midwest. Wikipedia describes a sun dog as "an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous or halo on either side of the sun". Sun dogs are usually 22 degrees below the sun and frequently appear in pairs, on either side of the sun. They can be mistaken for rainbows with their prismatic colors, but they are round, not arch-like.

Aristotle, Seneca, and Cicero all noted sun dogs in their writings. I have only seen one other one, and that was above the ocean before a sunset in Tampa, Fl. For a complete history of sun dogs, refer to that section of Wikipedia.

Meanwhile, if you were traveling West on Highway 40/64 or I-44 you may have seen the one I saw at 3:45p.m. on Thursday. I do not know if sun dogs are becoming more or less prevalent because of climate change, but I feel priveledged to have witnessed one over Richmond Heights at the end of my walk!

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