If you looked to the night sky over Thanksgiving weekend you were treated to a beautiful and rare sight, a moon dog over the Hoosier state!

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A Look at the Night Sky

I've always been one to go out and look at the moon, to this day my parents will call me if the moon looks extra pretty and tell me to go outside.   So when I looked at the moon on Saturday night I was treated to quite the celestial surprise, a moon dog and a lunar halo over Indiana!

What is a Moon Dog?

Lunar halos are a fairly common phenomenon that you'll often see caused by clouds.  Moon dogs however are a rarer sight.   Moon dogs are caused by the refraction of moonlight by ice crystals causing a rainbow of color.   While lunar halos are a common phenomenon, moon dogs are not as the moon has to be extremely bright for one to form.

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Crystal Link describes moon dogs as:

A moon dog, moondog, or mock moon, (scientific name paraselene, meaning "beside the moon") is a relatively rare bright circular spot on a lunar halo caused by the refraction of moonlight by hexagonal-plate-shaped ice crystals in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds.

 

Moon dogs appear as part of the 22° halo, roughly 10 Moon diameters outside the Moon. They are exactly analogous to sun dogs, but are rarer because the Moon must be bright, about quarter moon or more, for the moon dogs to be observed. Moon dogs show little color to the unaided human eye because their light is not bright enough to activate the cone cells.

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A Moon Dog and a Lunar Halo

I stepped out of my car on Saturday night and was pretty stunned when I saw the lunar halo and moon dog in the sky.  It created quite a stunning view over Evansville.  If you want to know more about lunar halos and what causes the ghostly rings around the moon, you can learn about them, here.

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