Sun Pillar Over Valley of the Moon, California

April 13, 2016

Sun Pillar April 1 2016

Photographer: Christine Churchill
I captured this surprising Sun pillar near my home in Valley of the Moon, California, a little before sunup (6:45 a.m.) on April 1, 2016. Sun pillars form when horizontally-stacked ice crystals reflect the rising or setting Sun. These crystals compose cirrus clouds or in some cases may be free falling in the atmosphere. But in order to observe a shaft of light above the Sun (or on occasion below the Sun, just after sunrise or before sunset) the crystals need to be tipped slightly in the viewer's direction.