Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Difference Between Sun Dogs and Sun Halos: Lovely Oregon Coast Science

Published 10/06/2018 at 5:44 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Difference Between Sun Dogs and Sun Halos: Lovely Oregon Coast Science

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; check for specials now
In Cannon Beach:
Deals beginning now or soon
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Check each listing for specials
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Deals begin soon
In Lincoln City:
Deals on rooms beginning now
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Specials start in September
In Newport:
Specials and deals beginning
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials
In Yachats, Florence
Specials; lodgings not listed anywhere else

(Oregon Coast) – One of the more fascinating finds and sights on the Oregon coast are sun dogs, moon dogs, sun halos or moon halos. They are not exclusively viewed on the beaches, but some can be a little less rare out here, and they add a truly heavenly aspect to your beach experience if you’re lucky enough to catch one. (Above: sun dog photo courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).

Sun dogs are part of a larger family of halos that includes the stunning moon halos – which come in many forms. But there’s a difference between sun dogs and halos, whether it’s moon halos or sun halos. Sun dogs are rarer formations where there are two bright spots on either side of the sun (or moon, much more rarely). Like a lens flare effect on a camera. Sun or moon halos are simply giant bright circles around either the sun or moon.

Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium has acquired some photos of these in the past, seen here.

Sundogs also go by the names sun dog, mock sun or parhelion: their scientific name is parhelia. (At right: photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection - a sun dog at Pacific City).

“Also known as a phantom sun, sun dogs are created by ice crystals in the atmosphere interacting with light,” Boothe said.

They show up as a pair of bright spots on either side of the sun. Often, they are seen with a large, luminous area around the sun as well.

Like many light phenomena associated with the sun – including the Green Flash at sunset on the Oregon coast – refraction is the key. Scientists say sun dogs are caused by ice crystals with a hexagonal shape, sitting high in the atmosphere in very cold air. These act like prisms, bending the light and making interesting, luminous shapes. The taller the sun dog, the more these objects are wobbling as they move through the atmosphere.

They tend to be visible more often when the sun is close to the horizon, and in that lie some interesting tricks of light. The part closest to the sun can be more red, while the parts farther from the sun tend to be more blue or green.

Both halos and sun dogs are created by refraction, meaning the light is passing through the ice crystals are being bent. With halos, light is usually being bent by 22 degrees, but sometimes at 46 degrees.

Moon halos are sometimes at least as stunning, and they are the result of tiny ice crystals lurking high in the sky, usually around 20,000 feet above and existing as thin, wispy clouds. These come in two flavors: a giant, whitish ring around the moon, or a blob of colors surrounding the moon. Both require a thin layer of clouds that does essentially the same thing in terms of refraction that the sun dog does.

Many of the multicolored forms are much smaller, but they seem to have a rainbow full of colors. Amusingly, they can also resemble Pac Man in the sky.

Moon halos like this – and the whitish kinds - often mean rain or snow are coming soon, and they are often the forerunners of storm clouds right behind. More photos of these phenomena below: Oregon Coast Lodgings for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

Oregon Coast Lodging

 

Above: sun halo photo courtesy Angi Wildt. Below: two incarnations of moon halos.




More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

 

Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss

 



Coastal Spotlight


LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

First Day Hikes: New Year's Walks Beyond the Oregon Coast
Astoria events, Seaside events, Manzanita events, Rockaway Beach events, Pacific City events, Lincoln City events, Depoe Bay events, Newport events, Florence events
N. Oregon Coast's Tillamook County Twinkles with Train Rides, Light Festival
A bevy of coziness-inducing events and a countywide celebration of lights Manzanita events, Rockaway Beach events, Tillamook events, Pacific City events
Sign Up for the Oregon Coast Email Newsletter
Receive weather alerts / travel alerts, exclusive deals on lodging and other means of fun. Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Tillamook, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Yachats
King Tides Project Needs Help from Oregon Coast Photo Aficionados
King Tides Project is asking for your photographic assistance. Sciences
Sneaker Wave Advisory for S. Oregon Coast; Northern Half Large Display
Increased dangers down south while the upper half will still get a show
Seven Sometimes Uneasy Oregon Coast Historical Facts - Video
The jolting surprises of what things around you really mean. Seaside, Manzanita, Oceanside, Lincoln City, Newport, Yachats
Ways to Hide from the Masses at Cannon Beach, N. Oregon Coast
Sometimes, you just want to hide from the crazed crowds of certain heavy-hitter towns
The Soft, Sandy and the Intricate: Around Waldport, Central Oregon Coast
A long expanse of sandy stretches or the rocky labyrinths of Seal Rock

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted

Oregon Coast Lodging
Rentals
Specials

Dining

Events Calendar

Oregon Coast Weather

Travel News

Search for Oregon Coast Subjects, Articles

Virtual Tours, Maps
Deep Details