Sun Pillar over Ontario
This alien look like phenomenon in the horizon is a sun pillar. When driving across Ontario, Canada in early June, the photographer was surprised to encounter such an “eerie and beautiful” vista, and immediately took pictures. Image Credit & Copyright: Rick Stankiewicz
When atmospheric air is cold, ice sometimes forms flat six-sided crystals as it falls from high-level clouds. Air resistance then causes these crystals to lie nearly flat much of the time as they flutter to the ground. If viewed toward a rising or setting Sun, these flat crystals will reflect sunlight and create an unusual column of light — a sun pillar as seen above. Such columns of light are not uncommon to see, and a retrospective of past APODs that have featured picturesque sun pillars can be found here.
Light pillars are a kind of optical phenomenon which is formed by the reflection of sunlight or moonlight by ice crystals that are present in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The light pillar looks like a thin column that extends vertically above and/or below the source of light. The light pillar is prominently visible when the Sun is low or lies below the horizon. It normally forms an arc that extends from five to ten degrees beyond the solar disc. Light pillars can sometimes also be seen arising from the Moon.
Light pillars are formed by reflection from ice crystals with roughly horizontal faces.
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