Pillar

Credit - Brocken Inaglory - CC-BY-SA - Click for larger

Credit – Brocken Inaglory – CC-BY-SA – Click for larger

Cloud of the Day – Pillar

The pillar is an optical phenomenon where a light source, the Sun or the Moon or a streetlight, eg, is accompanied by a vertical column of light. Depending on the position of the light relative to the viewer, the pillar can be above or below the source, or both. Pillars are related to halos, being caused by light interacting with ice crystals, but can appear alone.

Credit S Moeller - Public Domain - Click for larger

Credit S Moeller – Public Domain – Click for larger

Credit Ikonet.com

Credit Ikonet.com

While halos are produced by the refraction of light through ice crystals, pillars form when the light reflects off of them. Because the ice crystals are all in different orientations as they sift through the air, the light source is reflected to you from different altitudes, elongating the reflection. Usually the type of ice crystal involved is the flat, hexagonal plate.

Credit - Hannes Grobe - CC-BY-SA - Click for larger

Credit – Hannes Grobe – CC-BY-SA – Click for larger

The pillar is not associated with any type of weather, only with the presence of ice crystals between the viewer and the light source.

rjb

2 comments for “Pillar

  1. April 20, 2015 at 14:25

    So extremely cool!
    Thanks for explaining this visually glorious phenomenon.
    splendid!
    I know. .. gushing. But the pillars really really deserve it.

    • April 20, 2015 at 14:35

      Thanks em. And many thanks to the photographers who generously share their work.

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