Late in the afternoon on January 14, I stepped outside onto our patio in Buckeye, Arizona and noticed something I’d not seen in Arizona before. A common occurrence, especially in winter in North Dakota, sun dogs were making an appearance here in Arizona. I’m not an expert on the phenomenon, so I can’t say how rare they are in Arizona. I can only relate that I’ve never noticed them here before. I grabbed my Samsung Galaxy S7 and captured the moment.
Also known as sundogs and parhelions, the “fake suns” are usually equidistant on either side of the solar horizontal plane. They are caused by reflections of the sun in ice crystals in cirrus clouds high in the atmosphere. Cirrus clouds are thin, very common and develop at altitudes 20,000 feet (6000 m) and higher above sea level.