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Light pillars in Antartica – what are they?

Often appearing in UFO reports (…), light pillars are one of these wonderful and magical natural phenomenons we may all experience on our beautiful planet.

A natural phenomenon?

Sun pillars or light pillars form when sunlight (or another bright light source) reflects off the surfaces of millions of falling ice crystals associated with thin, high-level clouds – for example, cirrostratus clouds. The ice crystals have roughly horizontal faces. They are falling through Earth’s atmosphere, rocking slightly from side to side.

Concordia research in Antartica being beaned by a Light Pillar
Concordia research base in Antarctica.

When is the best time to see a sun pillar or light pillar? 

You’ll most often see sun pillars when the sun is low in the western sky before sunset, or low in the east just after the breaking of dawn. You might even see a sun pillar when the sun is below the horizon. Light pillars can be seen at any time of night.

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