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Earth Science photo of the day!!! Oct 13, 2011

Photographer: Rick Stankiewicz

The photo above showing a crimson colored Sun pillar was captured near Hearst, Ontario just after sunset on June 10, 2011. I was traveling west across northern Ontario, toward the setting Sun, and suddenly this dazzling column of light appeared -- it was both beautiful and eerie. The contrast with the darkened cirrus clouds over the western horizon added greatly to its affect. Pillars take shape when sunlight is reflected from the bottom, or sometimes the top surface, of oriented, plate-shaped ice crystals. They need to be slightly tipped in the direction of the observer in order to cause the burst of vertical light. Since they're reflection phenomena, they generally present but a single color.



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