Home > Nature, Science > It’s like that scene in Star Wars, except there are three suns and two don’t exist

It’s like that scene in Star Wars, except there are three suns and two don’t exist

I have a new goal in life. The best part is, I can accomplish this goal with absolutely no effort made on my part. All I need is the sun, and a specific atmospheric condition and I’m set. Since these two things are entirely out of my control (at least, they are for now mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha) all that’s required on my part is to play “the waiting game”. So, what is this super lazy life’s goal? To witness a sun dog.

All right. Good post. Thanks for reading, everyone. See you around next time.

Now you want to know what a sun dog is, don’t you? Fine, then.

Sun dogs are like rainbows in winter, except without all of the leprechauns and homosexual subtext. They occur when the sun is low in the sky and the beams hit hexagonal ice crystals, which float high in the atmosphere. When these crystals are randomly aligned the sun appears to have a halo. This would be cool enough to see on its own, however as the crystals sink in the atmosphere they align vertically. The crystals act as prisms and the light gets refracted horizontally which creates sun dogs. The light gets concentrated to two points to the right and left of the sun giving the illusion of a large sun orbited by two smaller ones.

Sun dogs, like rainbows, result from refracted light, so all of the “Roy G. Biv” colors can be visible, however, they are often clumped together, which is what makes up the brightest white point. In theory, sun dogs would appear on other planets , except instead of appearing through water crystals, they might appear through carbon dioxide crystals (like on Mars) or through methane and ammonia clouds (like on the gas giants).

I can therefore expand my previous life’s goal and say that I’d like to see a sun dog from Earth and also see one standing on the surface of Mars, or floating in the gaseous awesomeness of Jupiter. That seems much more motivated of me than just waiting for the specific atmospheric conditions to occur here on Earth. Plus, no one will really call me out on my deathbed and say, “So, D.J. remember when you said that you wanted to see a sun dog from the surface of Mars? Never really lived up to that one, did ya, loser.” I mean, you can’t really fault me if I never get my ass to Mars, can you? Can you?!?!

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