Stunning solar phenomenon called 'sundogs' light up the sky

Have you ever seen these weird patches of light near the sun? It's not a trick of the lens - these are sundogs, which tend to form when it's super cold.

Temperatures typically need to be low enough for ice crystals to form in the air which then refract light when the sun's low in the sky, i.e. during sunset or sunrise.

The result is spots of light about appearing at 22 degrees on either or both sides of the sun.

If you're lucky, you may even see a sundog appear as a ring or halo around the sun.

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Sundogs
Amazing sunrise moment with sundog with sun.
Sundogs appear around the Aerial Bridge in Duluth, Minn., Friday morning, Jan. 30, 2004, as bitter cold gripped the region for the third day in a row. Sun dogs, or parhelia, are formed when light from the sun is refracted by ice crystals in the atmosphere. (AP Photo/Jack Rendulich)
Sundogs over the old Churchill Rocket Range, Churchill, Manitoba on a clear and cold winter day with ice crystals in the air With the 20mm SIgma lens. (Photo by: VW Pics/UIG via Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - November 1 (SOUTH AFRICA, UAE, BRAZIL AND TURKEY OUT): South Africans were surprised to see a rainbow wrapped around the sun, almost like a halo, at around 10am on 1 November, 2010 in the sky over Johannesburg, South Africa. This phenomenon is called a sundog. The rings around the sun are caused by ice crystals within thin cirrus clouds, the refraction causes light to shine into a ring. (Photo by The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - November 1 (SOUTH AFRICA, UAE, BRAZIL AND TURKEY OUT): South Africans were surprised to see a rainbow wrapped around the sun, almost like a halo, at around 10am on 1 November, 2010 in the sky over Johannesburg, South Africa. This phenomenon is called a sundog. The rings around the sun are caused by ice crystals within thin cirrus clouds, the refraction causes light to shine into a ring. (Photo by The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
SERSHUL, TIBET, CHINA - MAY 18: A rare and auspicious circular rainbow appears over the home of Khandroma Kunzang Wangmo, a female lama (living saint) who live in a remote region of the Himalayan plateau, on May 18, 2006 near Sershul in the Dzachuka region of Tibet, China. The phenomenon appeared after student Buddhist monks raised prayer flags on her mountain, which symbolized a long life for their renowned teacher. Wangmo's position as a woman lama is somewhat unique in Tibet. Khandroma, in the Tibetan language, means 'Sky Dancer', which aludes to the ability to live in the world with limitless enlightenment. (Photo by Andre Lambertson/Getty Images)
New Hampshire, Moose Brook State Park, Sundog At Dusk. (Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
Sundog on the ice road on the arctic ocean
At -40C, a woman watches a rare display in the sky known as 'Sundogs'. The bright center is the actual sun with the mirror images of it reflected in suspended ice crystals in the atmosphere. Taken on Great Slave Lake near Yellowknife in Canada's Arctic.
Marl Lake kayak sundog reflections,Roscommon, Michigan
solar halo or Sun halo and Rainbow in the morning.After a heavy storm
A sundog on a very cold day during sunset.
A parhelion (sundog) combined with a halo is seen over Lake Malaren in central Stockholm November 30, 2010. These weather phenomena are created by ice crystals in the atmosphere during cold weather. Stockholm is presently experience temperatures below minus 10 degree Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit). REUTERS/Henrik Montgomery/Scanpix (SWEDEN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN
A sundog (parhelion) is seen around the sun over the Malaysian island of Langkawi August 6, 2007. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA)
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It is also possible to still see them as temperatures rise if high-level cirrus clouds are present in the sky.

Sundogs are also called 'mock suns' or 'parhelia', which is a Greek word meaning "beside the sun".

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