What is a sun pillar, or light pillar?

earthsky.org | 1/10/2018 | Deborah Byrd
ali11 (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: http://en.es-static.us/upl/2012/11/sun_pillar_Shanna_Dennis-300x215.jpg

Canada geese look like ghosts as they fly though a sun pillar – January 28, 2017 – in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

EarthSky Facebook friends occasionally post beautiful photos of sun pillars, or light pillars. For example, there was a beautiful one seen from the U.S. West Coast on March 20, 2016 … a beautiful prelude to the first full night of spring. Sun pillars are vertical shafts of light that extend upward (or downward) from a bright light source, such as the sun or other bright light low on the horizon. They can be five to 10 degrees tall and sometimes even higher. They might lengthen or brighten as you gaze at them.

Source - UFO - Reports

They’re beautiful and wondrous. They’re also the source of some UFO reports!

Joe C. Tabb and Dawn Tabb caught this amazing sun pillar at sunset on May 10, 2016. A storm had recently passed.

US - West - Coast - Sun - Pillar

The U.S. West Coast got an amazing sun pillar on the first evening of spring, 2016. Photo by Lyle Evans in Highland, California.

Another shot of the beautiful sun pillar seen on March 20, 2016, from the U.S. West Coast. This one is from Chris Levitan Photography. Thanks, Chris!

Sun - Pillars - Pillars - Reflection - Ice

Sun pillars or light pillars are formed by reflection from hexagonal plate-like ice crystals in Earth’s air. These crystals drift through the atmosphere with a horizontal orientation, gently rocking from side to side as they fall. Diagram via University of Illinois.

Sun pillars or light pillars form when sunlight (or another bright light source) reflects off the surfaces of millions of falling ice crystals associated with thin, high-level clouds, for example, cirrostratus clouds. The ice crystals have roughly horizontal faces. They are falling through Earth’s atmosphere, rocking slightly from side to side.

Time - Pillar - Light - Pillar - Pillars

When is the best time to see a sun pillar or light pillar? You’ll most often see sun pillars when the...
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