Why you might see three suns in the winter sky

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Seeing 3 Suns the Winter Sky? Here's Why

A cool winter phenomenon
Why you might see three suns in the winter sky

iStock.com/karinegenest

The sun, a star with a 27-million-degree-Fahrenheit core, is singular in our solar system. However, under perfect conditions, it may appear as if there are three separate suns in the sky.

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This is not caused by an astronomical event or a shifting of the planets or the sun. Rather, this sight that seems straight out of a movie is caused by a natural weather phenomenon that can happen when it’s very, very cold outside. 

Officially known as a parhelion, this is more commonly referred to as sundogs. These form when light reflects off clouds of tiny hexagonal ice crystals high up in the atmosphere. Similar to a rainbow, light hits the ice and breaks it up into all its colors. The crystals fall and float and all we see is their reflection at eye level. The faint light from each crystal comes together to create a false sun.

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The mock suns form approximately 22 degrees either left, right or both, from the sun. They shine red closest to the sun and blue farther away. Sundogs are just one of many extreme cold weather phenomena that you need to see to believe.