Describe how, when, and where Sun pillars are formed


What will be the ideal response?


ANSWER: Sun pillars are caused by reflection of sunlight off ice crystals. Sun pillars appear most often at sunrise or sunset as a vertical shaft of light extending upward or downward from the sun. Pillars may form as hexagonal platelike ice crystals fall with their flat bases oriented horizontally. As the tiny crystals fall in still air, they tilt from side to side like a falling leaf. This motion allows sunlight to reflect off the tipped surfaces of the crystals, producing a relatively bright area in the sky above or below the Sun. Pillars may also form as sunlight reflects off hexagonal pencil-shaped ice crystals that fall with their long axes oriented horizontally. As these crystals fall, they can rotate about their horizontal axes, producing many orientations that reflect sunlight. So, look for Sun pillars when the Sun is low on the horizon and cirriform clouds are present.


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