By Judi Curry
That seems to be the question everyone is asking since the Ebola epidemic started affecting people in the United States. My usual answer would be “no” but I now have changed that and say, “I’ve been to North Dakota in the past few weeks. Does that count?”
It’s obvious that I know that North Dakota is not a “foreign country” in the true sense of the meaning, but I’ve learned so much about the State that was foreign to me before.
How many of you know what a “sun dog” is? Living in San Diego my dog is frequently in the sun, but that’s not what is meant in North Dakota – and other communities nearby.
Sun dogs are an atmospheric phenomenon caused by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals such as those hosted in cirrus clouds. A number of specific conditions must prevail for this phenomenon to form: the sun must be in the sky, usually less than 45 degrees from the horizon, and in the same horizontal plane as the viewer.
Small hexagonal ice crystals must also be in roughly the same plane, and be oriented parallel to the ground. If all of the ice crystals are relatively flat, sun dogs will form approximately 22 degrees away from the sun.
Usually, they come in pairs, one on either side of the sun, and they are sometimes accompanied by a halo, caused by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals oriented in multiple directions. They are absolutely beautiful.
My friend Cowboy took these pictures, both in the morning and afternoon. My first response was that the sun broke into two, for it looks like two suns are setting.
I am working on another article about the real differences of our state and Cowboy’s, but I wanted to share these pictures with you. And, as I know Cowboy will point out to me, they are not indigenous to North Dakota.