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Logo bar of the Alaska Public Lands Information Center which are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Tok and Ketchikan
A bright orange sun reflects in the waters of an ocean bay. Small spruce covered islands are in silhouette and a low mountain range is cast in a smokey gray palate.
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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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Alpenglow Newspaper of Denali National Park
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Close up shot of three Walruses at the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. These marine mammals are reddish brown in color with great, long, white tusks. Did You Know?
Over 30 species of marine and terrestrial mammals are present on Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. Migrating waterfowl use the coastal wetlands, while over 1,500 miles of riverine habitat provide for 5 species of Pacific salmon, rainbow and lake trout, grayling, Dolly Varden, and Arctic char.