Friday, 24 October 2008

Light pillar

When I was up at GB’s we saw a strange phenomenon one night – a pillar of light over the Scottish mountains.

I came across the cause on a website the other day. It seems that the light pillar is a visual phenomenon created by the reflection of light from ice crystals with near horizontal parallel planar surfaces. The light can come from the sun (usually at or low to the horizon) in which case the phenomenon is called a sun pillar or solar pillar. It can also come from the moon or from terrestrial sources such as streetlights. The crystals producing the pillars are often roughly halfway between you and the lights but like all halos they are purely the collected light beams from all the millions of crystals which just happen to be reflecting light towards your eyes or camera. In the case of our pillar it was from the direct opposite point of the compass to the setting sun.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful. Everything comes to he who waits (and sometimes even quicker to he who goes out to find the answer).


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