Friday, January 14, 2005

Sun pillar: a break from the on-line world

I couldn't help but take a break from the "digital world" today. On my way in to work, I saw a weather phenomenon that got me to unplug for a little while and appreciate the world around me. Today, the weather was perfect for a sun pillar. Below is an image of a sun pillar:

NOTE: Image courtesy of Photographer: Jim Kirkpatrick

Sun Pillars are formed roughly 20-30 times per year, so they are not all that rare. According to Wikipedia, a sun pillar "appears most often as a vertical pillar or column of light rising from the sun near sunset or sunrise, though it can appear below the sun, particularly if the observer is at a high elevation or altitude. Hexagonal plate- and column-shaped ice crystals cause the phenomenon. Plate crystals generally cause pillars only when the sun is within 6 degrees of the horizon, or below it; column crystals can cause a pillar when the sun is as high as 20 degrees above the horizon. The crystals tend to orient themselves near-horizontally as they fall or float through the air, and the width and visibility of a sun pillar depends on crystal alignment."

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