Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sun pillars

A few days ago near Anchorage, Alaska, Shawn Standley went out to search for the perfect Christmas tree. A helpful column of light led him right to it:

"This spruce tree and a flock of passing waxwings was highlighted by a setting sun pillar," says Standley. "It was a beautiful sight."

Sun pillars are caused by ice in the air. Plate-shaped ice crystals flutter down from freezing clouds like leaves falling from trees. They act like thousands of little mirrors reflecting the light of the setting sun into a towering pillar--or Christmas-tree finder, as the case may be.

Sun's Warmth

Indeed, says English nature photographer Andrew Greenwood, "although the winter air here in Cheshire is frigid, the sun's warmth can still be felt, and shows its presence through the melting of snow." To illustrate the point in an artistic way, he took this picture yesterday using a Nikon D50:

"Here we see our world reflected in a tiny droplet of meltwater," he continues. "The surface curvature of the droplet was such that the sun appeared twice! It just goes to show that wondrous optical effects can be seen even on the smallest scale."

To all of Yours from little Old Me