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05.04.12 News | Today's News | Past Issues
05.04.12 News
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Picture of the Day

Beam Me Up, Scotty

Someone’s about to be beamed up -- or so it looks. Captured at sunset near Jenison, Mich. on April 10, 2012, this mysterious ray of light is actually a Sun pillar. These result from the reflection of sunlight off the bottom surfaces (or less frequently, the top surfaces) of plate-shaped ice crystals composing cirrus clouds. These crystals must be similarly oriented and slightly tipped with respect to the viewer in order for a pillar to be observed. The crimson shaft piercing the purple sky made this sunset unforgettable.

Image credit: Kevin Povenz