Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2001 November 7
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A Sun Pillar in Red and Violet
Credit & Copyright: Jim Kirkpatrick & Brigitte Heiter-Kirkpatrick

Explanation: Sometimes the unknown is beautiful. In 2000 February near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, two amateur photographers noticed an unusual red column of light rise mysteriously from a setting sun. During the next few minutes, they were able to capture the pillar and a photogenic sunset on film. Pictured above, the red column is seen above a serene Lake Tahoe and snow-capped mountains across from Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park. The mysterious column, they learned later, is a Sun Pillar, a phenomenon where sunlight reflects off of distant falling ice crystals.

Tomorrow's picture: Under the Sun

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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& Michigan Tech. U.