Last Sunday afternoon, returning from a late Christmas dinner celebration with my family, I observed something I had never seen before. Looking out the window of the van, I spotted something that looked like a rainbow in color, but wasn’t the arched shape rainbow I have known throughout my life. It was a spherical shaped area of the sky, but had the colored aspects of a rainbow.
I immediately grabbed a few exposures with my camera and shared with my wife and family, “Look out the back window. It’s a ‘rain blob’.” This is the name I had come up with to describe this occurrance. I also called it the “Cowpens Aurora Borealis” in honor of the nearby community we were passing through.
My family was amused at my naming efforts, but I don’t think any of them had ever seen this strange phenomena.
After arriving back at my mother’s house, I was talking to my sister-in-law about the “blob.” She informed me that it was a “sun dog”.
This morning I downloaded my photos and googled “sun dog”.
A sundog is a rainbow-like spot in a cirrus cloud. Light shining through ice crystals in the cloud makes a sundog, much like light shining through raindrops makes a rainbow. “They are reddish on the side facing the sun and often have bluish-white tails stretching horizontally away from them,” say David Lynch and William Livingston in Color and Light in Nature.
Anyone else seen a rainblob besides me?