Volcano Enhanced Sunset and Solar Pillar

September 11, 2019

Raikoke volcano enhanced sunset w solar pillar 4

Photographer: John Stetson
Summary Author: John Stetson

The recent eruption of the Raikoke volcano in eastern Russia has enhanced the sunsets around the world. It was Ben Franklin who first proposed that the sudden alteration in the weather in 1783 had a direct geological cause.

In the picture above, captured from Lake Sebago, Maine, the eye-catching colors owe much to the volcanic eruption. However, the solar pillar at center resulted not from injection of dust and ash into the atmosphere but rather from the orientation of hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus clouds. When ice crystals have horizontal orientations the sunlight they reflect is directed towards the surface. Photo taken on August 22, 2019.