Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sun Pillar (almost)

On the way to the Lake Skinner star party, I saw a sun-pillar-like phenomenon. It's best described as a diffuse sun pillar:

You can see a shadow off of the mountain in the center. This shadow demonstrates that the sun is below the horizon and not behind the bright patch of cloud in the center. With the sun below the horizon, the bright patch is illuminated by light refracted, or bent, by ice crystals in the clouds. If the clouds were thinner, I suspect the pillar would have been more compact, appearing as a column, similar to this sun pillar I photographed a couple years ago:

The above sun pillar was photographed in January, the colder weather enhancing the ice crystal formation needed to create a well defined column. My hypothesis is that the same phenomena in summer tends toward more diffuse pillars, as shown by this sun pillar, which I also photographed during hot weather a few years ago:

In addition to a sun pillar,  I also saw a fireball meteor during last night's star party at Lake Skinner. In the south, a bright meteor, many times brighter than Venus glowed and crawled south and then broke up into at least three visible parts. I was not the only one who saw it.


1 comment:

Michelle Garner said...

I also so saw the fireball meteor. I was intrigued. Thank you for clearly up what I saw. The pictures of the sun pillars are absolutely beautiful.