04 March 2006
Some non-pilots have trouble believing me when I describe all the various interesting phenomena I get to see on a regular basis. One of them, the "Sun Dog," is formed by the sunlight refracting off the bright aluminum fuselage of the aircraft, and out onto whatever visible moisture is in the air. If the moisture takes the form of a thin, misty cloud, you might see a weak halo. If that moisture is a full-blown cloud, you sometimes get to see a bright aura around the aircraft's distinct shadow. Either way, it's called a Sun Dog. Here, you can see a good Sun Dog, along with our contrail shadow. What's really neat about this scene is that the bright corona that's reflected on the cloud indicates that we are sitting in the very front of the aircraft. Passengers in the back would see the corona centered more toward the back of the aircraft's shadow. Cool, huh?