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Eye in the sky: 'Sun dog' halo blazes over Bournemouth beach

07-23-2010 15:57 BJT

It looks like a giant eye gazing down from the heavens.

But the spectacular sight of the sun surrounded by a mysterious halo is known as a 'sun dog'.

The phenomenon, which had beachgoers in Bournemouth gazing at the sky yesterday, occurs when sunlight is refracted by hexagonal-shaped ice crystals in high and cirrus clouds - and is quite common.

Bournemouth photographer Chris Skone-Roberts captured this amazing 'sun dog' hovering over the seaside town yesterday. 
Bournemouth photographer Chris Skone-Roberts captured this amazing 'sun dog' 
hovering over the seaside town yesterday.

This picture was taken from Bournemouth beach in Dorset by photographer Chris Skone-Roberts.

The phenonemen is officially called a pathelia but is also known as a 'halo' or 'mock sun'.

The sun was partly obscured by high cirrus clouds. 'Sun dogs' are more commonly seen when the sun is low in the sky and not in the middle of the day.

Cultures around the globe have traditionally given great significance and meaning to a sun dog when they see one.

A sun dog is believed to have appeared in the sky before the Battle of Mortimer's Cross, one of the most impossible battles during the War of the Roses in 1461.

The Yorkist leader, who later became Edward IV, convinced his nervous troops that the strange sight was a good omen and won a decisive victory.

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