Sun pillar sighted in Skidegate

  • Nov. 16, 2005 9:00 a.m.

Have you ever seen a sun pillar? Monique Brown of Skidegate did Monday at sunrise, Charlotte Tarver writes. “Â…it was a very pink sky as the sun rose with this incredible column of pink light shooting up below the sun directly behind SandspitÂ…” she said,
Sun pillars are a vertical shaft of light extending upward or downward from the sun. This rare weather phenomena occurs when the atmosphere is cold, the sun is rising or setting, and falling ice crystals from clouds can reflect sunlight to create an unusual column of light. A sun pillar takes on colours of the sun and clouds. They can appear white or at other times as shades of gold, red or orange.
Ice sometimes forms flat stop-sign shaped crystals as it falls from high-level clouds (cirrostratus). The crystals lie nearly flat as they flutter to the earth. When the sun is low on the horizon (about 6 degrees) sunlight reflects off the surface of the crystals creating the sun pillar effect.
Others in Skidegate noticed this rare atmospheric event. “I have lived here for 19 years and never seen one before, ” said Ms Brown. She also said that as the pillar disappeared a “really bright, white light” replaced the pink colour. Solar pillars can last as long as 8 or more minutes.