The Science Behind The Beaming Pillars Of Light

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6.05.2016

The Science Behind The Beaming Pillars Of Light

Where are Light Pillars Found?

Typically seen in the polar regions, vertical columns of light appear in places having lower altitudes and frigid temperatures. Most light pillars consist of approximately 10 100 million rays of light.

The location and appearance of any light pillar depends on 5 factors: The orientation and type of the floating ice crystals, the height of the crystals in the atmosphere,
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Light Pillar or Camera Flare?

Although the light pillars appear similar to lens flares in photographs,
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Direction of Light Pillars

When the source of light is close to the ground, the light pillars appear above the ice crystals. But if the Sun or Moon is the source, the pillars can extend below and/or above the crystals. When the crystals are pushed around by the wind, these pillars vanish and reappear, giving the appearance of a shimmering aurora.

Why do Artificial Light Pillars Have Different Colors?

The different colors in artificial light pillars correspond to the source of the light. Mercury vapor lights produce bluish/red pillars. Also, if the ice crystals are in separate layers, multiple light pillars can form at different heights,
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Interesting Light Pillar Trivia

In extremely cold conditions and still air, light pillars can even be caused from the light emitting from the headlights of a car.

Unique Light Pillar Shapes

In rare cases, the ice crystals may be long and columnar in shape (15 20 micrometers across, and between 5 to 25C), rather than the usual flat hexagonal shapes. This can cause the light pillars to gain a trumpet shape, by flaring towards the ends.

Unlike other night sky phenomena,
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Artificial light pillars can be larger than natural ones, going up to 90 degrees, as the beams from man made sources are not parallel, and even slightly tilted ice crystals are able turn this light into pillars, from an appropriate distance and angle. On the other hand, Sun and Moon pillars are visible only when the crystals are tilted at a large angle.

Most light pillars are Sun pillars, formed when sunlight reflects off millions of ice crystals in very cold air (between 0 to 20 C). These pillars can stretch very high, and can acquire the reds, yellows, and purples of the Sun and the clouds near them. In rarer cases,
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Characteristics of Sun Pillars

Sun pillars can be 5 10 degrees tall, and on rare occasions much more higher. They are known to lengthen/brighten for around 30 minutes after the Sun has gone below the horizon,
yeezy boost 350 fake, and depending on the position of the crystals,
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Sun and Moon pillars are usually seen only when the Sun/Moon are visible close to the horizon. The best time to see a Sun pillar is in the west just before sunset or in the east when the Sun begins to rise. Artificial light pillars can be seen at anytime of the night. Great views can be seen from hills/mountains or an airplane.

Sun pillars which extend below the Sun are much more difficult to see, than those above the Sun. This happens because of the two way rotation of the crystals in the air. The sunlight reflects of the end faces of the crystal,
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