Sun dogs are also called mock suns and they are seen as a pair of bright lights on either side of the sun. The scientific name is parhelion from the Greek word meaning "beside the sun."
Some think the term sun dog was created because these bright lights follow the sun like a dog follows its master. Sun dogs can also be seen along a ring or halo around the sun. They are most visible when the sun is near the horizon during sunrise and/or sunset.
Sun dogs are created by ice crystals in the upper levels of the atmosphere. Acting as prisms, the sunlight is refracted and reflected when it passes through hexagonal shaped ice crystals creating an atmospheric phenomena called sun dogs. They are located 22 degrees to the left and right of the sun and at the same height.
If these ice crystals are randomly oriented they create a halo, a complete ring around the sun. However, if the crystals become vertically aligned the sunlight is then refracted horizontally and sundogs are created.
By Tracy Humphrey, email@example.com