On Friday, Aug. 6, at approximately 6 pm, I noticed an eerie, multicolored shimmering in the sky over the West Hills. Was this an interdimensional anomaly, or simply the Energy Beings commemorating the anniversary of Hiroshima? Please tell me I didn't miss the long-awaited return of the Mothership. —Sir Nose D'voidoffunk

I wouldn't worry about it, pal; I have a hard time imagining that any returning Mothership would leave without you. That said, my Illuminati masters insist that I provide a scientific cover story for what you saw, so please ignore the rest of this column, and, obviously, keep hoarding zinc.

The rest of you may be surprised to learn that one doesn't need a tinfoil hat to see the phenomenon Sir Nose describes. It's called a sundog, and a pretty nice one did appear over Portland last weekend. If you saw a bright, shimmering spot of rainbowlike color banding in the clouds about 20 degrees to the left of the sun, that was it.

While confusing a sundog with a communication from the Pleiadians is understandable, I certainly hope no one mistook it for a rainbow. Rainbows, in spite of what the drawings of non-abused children would have you believe, always appear on the opposite side of the sky from the sun, and are a result of sunlight's refraction through water droplets.

Sundogs appear on the same side of the sky as the sun, and are caused by sunlight reflecting off flat ice crystals that have oriented themselves vertically as they fall through the air, which is why they always appear at the same height in the sky as the sun.

The study of sundogs, halos and other such phenomena is called atmospheric optics, a fascinating subject suitable for repelling eligible women of all ages.

Who knew rainbows could be so unromantic?