Sundogs & Rainbows

Sundog Clothing – What’s in the name?

How did I name the company, what does it mean, what is a sundog? These are some of the questions I get asked about the brand.

The name originates from the standout feelings you have in a moment of discovery with your loved ones. Seeing Sundogs (they always come in pairs) was my particular moment of discovery. Walking with my family by the sea, we saw two beautiful triangular shaped rainbows on either side of the sun. The colours were so well defined and the shape remarkable that they stuck with me. This collective finding led me to research this meteorological phenomenon in more detail so that I could understand how it was formed. Also, the name is just brilliant.

What is a sundog? Aka ‘mock sun’ or the scientific name, ‘parhelion’

They appear like rainbow patches approximately 22° on either side of the sun. The colour closest to the sun is red and if the conditions are right, you can see the whole visible spectrum.

This is one of the sundogs seen that day on the south coast. I took the picture on my phone and could only fit one in. They cover a big space in the sky!



What is needed to make Sundogs?

Sundogs are a relatively rare occurrence and be seen anywhere in the world if conditions are right. To happen they need quite a few things to align at the same time. Sundogs and Moondogs (yes that’s a phenomenon too) happen when their rays of light pass through a thin cirrus or horsetail cloud composed of hexagonal ice crystals that are falling with their principle axis; their large flat faces parallel to the ground.

The sun rays are split with the red appearing closest to the sun and the blue when visible on the outside. Remember that physics lesson with a prism and you used it to split white light into the visible spectrum – that’s what happens in this phenomenon. The crystals do the job of the prism.

Watch the video from Meteorology Minute to see sundogs and a quick explanation of how sundogs are formed.

Where does the name Sundogs come from?

Not sure why this is, the most popular explanation is that the rainbow patches follow the sun like a dog would follow it’s owner.

If you’ve seen sundogs or moondogs, it would be great to see your pictures and where you saw them.

Tag them with #sundogclothing and let’s start a colourful conversation.

Rainbow colours & Lockdown

Rainbows have been the symbol of hope and support for the NHS during lockdown. As accessible as they are in the sky, they are also easy to interpret artistically as we have seen from all the windows, walls, and flags to name a few which have become impromptu galleries for people’s rainbow art. Our street views have definitely become more lively, joyful and colourful despite the effects of social distancing.

Also a meterological phenomenon, we draw rainbows from a young age. There was even an iconic children’s TV show called ‘Rainbow’ in the 70’s with a classic opening tune– some of you might remember it!

It’s obvious the rainbow’s appeal comes from the colours that fill the space across a horizon- they’re the headline act, and it’s presence is ethereal.To get the huge arc of colour onto a smaller space brings the rainbow into a different medium and can then be drawn as the artist sees it. Always recognisable and loved.

You can see many interpretations if you look at the work of artists.   

Rachel Mammone  @rachelmammoneprints paints beautiful celestial rainbows which look so simple – their genius being they are many layered.

Rachel Mammone - Rainbows

She says ‘I’m always inspired by the sky. Looking up to the sky keeps me calm and grounded, and I’m forever inspired by the colours, shapes and patterns that I see when looking up. Rainbows have become a symbol of hope and I wanted to paint something that reflected this too, so my rainbow collection was formed. It combines this image for hope as well as my love for the sky, with layers of stars on the rainbows’.



Olafur Eliasson is a favourite of ours, an artist who uses natural phenomena such as water, light and mist in his art. Rainbows, and the splitting of light re-occur in his work in lots of mediums.

‘Beauty’, 1993 is an interactive installation using light, water droplets. The rays of artificial light refract off the tiny water droplets created by a fine mist and you can step into the manufactured rainbows if you want to – I did!


In ‘Whenever the rainbow appears’, he also painted narrow strips of colour which feature in Jesse Waugh’s Spectrum music video.


Rainbow,2017 is a digital interactive experience which  we would love to experience.

There is something about being immersed in colour. It can change our mood and how we view things which we did experience at 'The Light Show' in the Hayward Gallery, 2013 which brought together sculptures and installations that used artificial light to trasform space and to influence and alter perception.

That exhibition invited you to walk through rooms of colour and the changes we felt from moving from colour to colour were distinct.

The colours - How do we see them? 

To see the visible spectrum or colours of the rainbow, it’s good to understand the biology of the eye how the physical and psychological responses rely on this. 

Basically light enters your eye and depending on its length it’s energy will react with rods and cones in the back of your retina which send a message via your optic nerve to your brain which interprets what colour you are seeing.

Check out this colour physics lesson to boost your knowledge.

Sundogs and rainbows have lots of elements which we need to interact with to see them and maybe it’s a natural jump to associate them with hope because all these facets have to coincide for us to see the colour.

If you have any comments or would like to add anything, do get in touch we’d love to hear from you.

See you next time.