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Logo bar of the Alaska Public Lands Information Center which are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Tok and Ketchikan
very clear pink sunset of the snow covered Mount McKinley and low moon to the right of the mountain, body of water reflecting the beautiful scenery
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Sun Dogs
 
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Check out our video about sun dogs!
A field of snow. There are a couple of snow adorn mountains. Between them is the sun. There is a halo formed around the sun. On either end of the halo are two sun dogs, which look like rainbows.
NPS
A sun dog at Denali National Park

Parhelions, more commonly known as sun dogs or mock suns, appear as fuzzy rainbows or bright spots in the sky "dogging" the sun. You are most likely to see a sun dog in the morning or afternoon during the winter. Records of this phenomena date all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Famous Ancient Greek philosophers Cicero and Aristotle even made mention of sun dogs.

 



A close-up of a sun dog, which looks like a small segment of a rainbow.
Mary McCormick
A sun dog

Sun dogs are the result of ice crystal clouds called cirrostratus clouds refracting or reflecting light from the sun. The clouds form a halo around the sun that interacts with sunlight. If light refracts through it, the sun dog shows a spectrum of colors. Red is a main color because it is refracted less than other colors. White sun dogs are caused by reflecting light. Sun dogs mostly appear when the sun is "near" the earth, or below a 61 degree angle relative to the horizon. Therefore they can only be seen around sunrise or sunset, unless you are in Alaska during the winter where the sun is always low in the sky.



Visit Anchorage for Kids Online to watch more videos about the Aurora Borealis, Bear Safety, and Leave No Trace, or to play fun games!





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A hiker using trekking poles and wearing a large pack works his way through tussocks and thick vegetation. Did You Know?
Without trails, but thick with alders and other vegetation, tussocks, wildlife, biting insects, terrain, pack weight, water availability, altitude, and even scenery and wildflowers, the Alaskan landscape may reduce backcountry hikers to only traveling five miles per day. Plan accordingly!