Pine Pollen in the Air Over Sebago Lake

June 17, 2015

Pollen top copy
Photographer: John Stetson
Summary Author: John Stetson; Jim Foster
The white pine pollen has been so thick here at Sebago Lake, Maine, that it not only leaves an obvious residue on the surface of the water and even on granite outcrops bordering the lake, but it's evident in the air too. Like minute cloud droplets, pollen grains are of just the right size range (about 10 - 100 microns in diameter) to deflect sunlightPollen bottomSunlight is scattered by the pollen grains in such a way that the spherical waves (light behaves as both a wave and a particle) overlap and interfere with one another, resulting in concentric colored rings -- a corona. Of course, never look toward the Sun without protection your eyes.
The picture at left shows a microscopic view of the pine pollen. Note that the Mickey-Mouse ears on this magnified view are actually air bladders. The stellar dendrite-like shape at bottom is a phytoplankton. Top photo taken on May 17, 2014; bottom photo taken on June 10, 2015.