Plunging temperatures and sunny skies resulted in some great photo opportunities in Prince George, B.C., Thursday as an optical illusion known as “sun dogs” could be spotted throughout the city.
A sun dog — also known as a “mock sun” or parhelion in meteorology — is formed when ice crystals hanging in the atmosphere begin bending sunlight, resulting in a bright circle surrounded by a halo of light and, if the angle is right, even rainbows.
They are particularly visible when the sun is near the horizon and temperatures drop below freezing.
That was the case Thursday morning, as the temperature in Prince George fell to -30 C and sunrise was delayed until 8:06 a.m. PT, during most people’s morning commute.
Photographer Chuck Chin saw multiple sun dogs on his drive into town, but the sky was so bright he had a difficult time capturing them with his camera.
He had better luck in the afternoon during a visit to Cottonwood Island Park when he was able to walk out onto the dry riverbed and snap several shots of the phenomenon over the CN Rail bridge.
Chin says the display was one of the “most intense” displays of colour he’s ever seen over multiple years of photographing the skyline.
“I could feel ice crystals on my face.”
Mark Karjaluto also photographed the phenomenon while he was on campus at the College of New Caledonia.
“I saw a number of students looking out and taking photos,” the communications director said.
Karjaluto said he’d never seen a sun dog before, but one of his favourite things about winter is when there are clear skies on sunny, snowy days, brightening things up as the days get shorter.
“It’s one of the things that I [love] about Prince George.”
The odds of more sun dogs being visible this weekend are good, as Environment Canada is forecasting sunshine and highs of -18 C Saturday and Sunday.