’Tis Time for Sun Pillars and Sun Dogs

By Brad Bradstreet
Special to The News

’Tis time for Sun Pillars and Sun Dogs.

SUN PILLAR taken looking over Long Lake on a cold January morning just before sunrise by local photographer Brad Bradstreet of Bridgton.

We are not talking about baseball teams like the Sea Dogs in Portland. We are talking about winter weather.

A Sun Pillar is when a column of light appears on the horizon above the sun before it rises — or just after it sets.

A Sun Dog is bright balls of light to the left and/or right of the sun just after sunrise or before sunset. The weather has to be just right for these to occur.

To see a Sun Dog or a Sun Pillar, there will probably be no wind; humidity needs to be high; cold enough to produce ice crystals in the air; and reasonably clear for the sun’s rays to make this work. An example would be a cold morning just before sunrise. Ice crystals in the air would be flat or “plate-like” and are tilted slightly toward you. The sun’s rays come up and bounce off the tilted ice crystals to you. What you see is a tall pillar of light — a Sun Pillar. The photo (above) is an example taken looking over Long Lake a couple of years ago on a cold January morning just before sunrise.

A Sun Dog can appear when the conditions are similar. It happens while the sun is up but close to the horizon. The reflected light shows up on the sides of the sun.

Watch out for these this winter.

Brad Bradstreet of Bridgton is an avid photographer, who regularly submits interesting photos to The News.

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