Weather Wise: Sundogs
In this week's Weather Wise Beartooth NBC’s Austin Winfield goes on a quest to show you what a sundog is.
Austin: "My first stop takes us to the heart of Helena. So I have the dog park behind me and the sun in front of me, but that's not the sundog we're looking for. You know what? Let's go ask some smart people in Helena whether they know what a sundog is."
John Riley: "It's like a labradoodle, right?"
Tim McDonald: "Isn't that a soldier in Florida?"
Al Marks: "You know the sundogs back in the 70's had an incredible run, but they have fallen on hard times since then so we really haven't heard much about them."
Austin: "Well those weren't quite the answers we were loking for, but our final stop takes us to Dr. Kelly Cline of Carroll College."
Cline: "Sundogs, when you see them are bright spots to the left or right of the sun.
These awesome sightings are often associated with high clouds, or cirrus clouds. The ingredients for sundogs are also quite simple: cold air and moisture.
Cline: "Sundogs are created by tiny little ice crystals floating in the air. They are going to end up in mostly the shape of hexagons because they are made of water molecules and so that regular shape of that hexagon means they are going to bend the sun's light at certain specific angles."
This bending of the light is called refraction and is why you'll see sundogs at precisely twenty two degrees to the left or right of the sun. If you are hunting for these wonders of nature though, they are most prone when the sun is near the horizon. This allows for you to be in line with the settling or flattening of the ice crystals in the air which bends the sunlight in your direction. And now you are little more Weather Wise.
Story by Austin Winfield, Beartooth NBC.
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