Parhelion ("sundog") at Paihia

On a peaceful misty morning in Paihia, a sight sent me to my copy of "The Cloud Collector's Handbook" by Gavin Pretor-Pinney.  Despite its name, this little book isn't about a delusional acquisition problem - he writes, "You don't have to own something to collect it.  You don't even have to hold it.  You just have to notice it and record it."  His book is one of the official publications of The Cloud Appreciation Society -  Rather than ticking boxes, it helps me with the act of appreciation - learning and better understanding about the weather and the clouds which make such wonderful patterns in the sky.  But this was not a cloud...

That bright spot of light is a sundog, or parhelion - from the Greek, meaning "beside the sun."  These are a "halo" phenomenon caused by refraction of sunlight through ice crystals in the thin layers of high clouds.  Sundogs appear on one or both sides of the sun and are level with it, and are brightest when the sun is low in the sky.  They are reddish coloured on the side facing the sun.  When I saw this one it was early morning and all was still - the mist was low, the water was calm, and the colours were soft and muted.  So the sundog was a striking sight.

The wider view - a sundog and associated high cloud over Paihia looking towards Russell, the very small and picturesque Taylor Island, and the usually-busy wharf.