Pillar Over Hearst, Ontario

October 13, 2011

OntarioSunPillarIMG_6948 (2)

Photographer: Rick Stankiewicz
Summary Author: Rick Stankiewicz; Jim Foster

October 2011 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's Choice

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.

Photo details: Canon 400D camera; 18-200mm lens - 38mm; ISO 200; f/5.6;
1/80 sec. exposure.