Lunar light pillar over Antarctica | 1/24/2019 | Deborah Byrd
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Light pillar extending from the moon, by D. Michalik/NSF/SPT.

The European Space Agency (ESA) released this beautiful image to the public on January 21, 2019. Taken by Daniel Michalik, a research fellow at ESA, it was a winner in the astronomy category in the Royal Society photography competition in 2017. It shows what’s called a light pillar.

Pillars - Ice - Crystals - Earth - Air

Light pillars are caused by ice crystals drifting in Earth’s air. This particular light pillar has every reason to exist. It’s over the coldest place on Earth – Antarctica – in fact, the South Pole. There, ESA said:

… the dry, cold conditions allow for observations of a number of rare celestial phenomena that are seen far less often elsewhere. The sight captured beautifully here by Daniel is a good example of such a phenomenon:...
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