I took this photo on the beach in St. Augustine. The Sun had just peaked over the horizon, and formed a bright column of light above it. Why?


This is called a Sun Pillar or Sun Column. It is not uncommon to see, but they are rarely strong enough to show up in photos. It is caused by plate-like ice crystals at very high altitudes. Air currents keep them aligned horizontally, and they reflect the sunlight in a single plane. I have seen Moon Pillars too, but they are much dimmer.