Logo bar of the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers which are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Tok and Ketchikan
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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.
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 these sites to watch more videos about the Aurora Borealis, Bear Safety, and Leave No Trace!

Blue glacial ice
Learn fun and interesting facts about glaciers and find viewing opportunities in Alaska.
Denali National Park & Preserve
Denali National Park & Preserve
Massive glaciers flank the towering Mt. McKinley
Alpenglow Newspaper of Denali National Park
Newspaper of Denali National Park & Preserve
Hiker in snow
Cold Safety
You are 10x more likely to die of hypothermia in Alaska than the lower 48. Don't be a statistic.
A small wolverine stands in tall, dry grass, looking toward the camera. Did You Know?
The highest density of wolverines in Alaska is located above the Arctic Circle in the treeless tundra of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.