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Rare optical illusion caught on film - Sun Pillar AND reflection of setting sun in clouds above.

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posted on Feb, 2 2012 @ 11:49 PM
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So tonight I had the great privilege of seeing what I think might have been the cause of some of the double sun craze last year. I have never witnessed this before and have only seen photos of it on a few occasions, so I believe it is rather rare.

I happened to look outside due to my dogs barking and saw what was turning out to be a rather stunning sunset. I grabbed my camera and hurried outside to capture some pictures.

I am on the NW corner of Washington State. It was between 5:30 and 6:00 pm and the sun was already below the horizon. At first it was just really brilliant colors and what looked like a ray of brighter light coming up from where the sun was. As the colors deepened I realized it was turning into a sun pillar and then to my delight saw what could have only been a reflection of the sun in the clouds at the top of the pillar.

It lasted for quite awhile. I'm not sure how long I was out there for, but probably at least 15 min. I took nearly a hundred pictures so I will share some of the best ones. I want to make a special point of saying that NONE of these have been touched-up, enhanced or anything else in any way. These are all raw....I will post one image at the end with the contrast and shadow/saturation tweaked a little bit to show the reflection a bit better. Other than that, what you see is exactly what I saw with the naked eye. It was SOOOO cool!!!!!



(thumbnails...click to enlarge)

It started as vivid wispy clouds
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What at first looked like just a ray of light got more condensed and brighter...
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I realized that a sun pillar was forming...
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At the top of the pillar what could only be a reflection of the sun appeared in the clouds
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The colors continued to intensify
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Closer up shot of the pillar and reflection
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The orange gave way to pinks and purple....the sun was well below the horizon by now
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Here is the one picture that I tweaked the contrast/shadows to show the reflection better. I have to say that this one would help support my sons theory of the mother ship hovering on the horizon.



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So I would love to have your feedback! I have tried to find some scientific info on this phenomenon but no luck so far.
edit on 2-2-2012 by westcoast because: (no reason given)

edit on 2-2-2012 by westcoast because: (no reason given)

edit on 2-2-2012 by westcoast because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 2 2012 @ 11:57 PM
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Sun pillars are caused by ice crystals floating in the air. I suppose the blob of light at the top would be because an increased amount of ice at cloud level. I guess there are some good things about living in a cold place.

The one with the geese is a real keeper!



posted on Feb, 2 2012 @ 11:57 PM
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trippy but beautiful



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 12:00 AM
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absolutely stunning!!! Even without the nifty effects your pics are a treasure.....if you have those types of sunsets a lot you are truly lucky!

Great captures btw..thanks for sharing



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 12:01 AM
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Awesome pics!!! I wish I could see that when I went outside! LOL

You got some good pictures there! Awesome!



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 12:13 AM
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reply to post by westcoast
 

S & F. You have such a gift for capturing these amazing sites just as they are happening. Utterly breathtaking! Thanks for sharing!!



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 12:15 AM
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At first, I thought it was the ocean, then I saw the birds.
Those clouds look like waves. Awesome photos.
edit on 3-2-2012 by Manhater because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 12:20 AM
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Thanks for the responses!

I am very blessed to live where I do....such a beautiful place.

@Phage: I have seen many song dogs and a few pillars....never one like this though. The high today was near 50....so not too cold at ground level. I know that doesn't have much to do with the ice crystals in the air though. I was excited to catch such a dramatic pillar, but was pretty surprised with what looked to be the reflection of the sun at the top. I have found two other pictures on-line now that are kinda similar, but still no scientific name for it. Perhaps there isn't one and would just be considered a strong pillar? I dunno...but it was really cool.


If you open the thumnails and enlarge the pic, on a few of them you can see where the circle is more defined.



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 12:35 AM
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Here is another picture taken from further away, showing the true size of it:






Here is one cropped and the contrast, etc. tweaked to show the top:





posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 12:48 AM
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reply to post by westcoast
 

Absolutely Stellar. Thank you for bringing it here. Love the pics on ATS. You captured something rare apparently.

A quick search of Google Images shows only one other like it and no where near as defined as yours. Upon first glance I thought the apparent image of the sun was the setting sun, not an "echo". Too cool.


Google Images "Pacific Sunsets"



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 01:11 AM
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reply to post by intrptr
 


Thanks! I'm glad you like them...I figured there would be some members here that would enjoy them.

here is a link showing pictures of sun pillars I can only find one that has a little bit of the sun reflected at the top, but not as obvious.

I am just really glad my dogs barked and caused me to look outside...and that I live in an area that gives me such a great view!!



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 01:16 AM
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Wow!! Thanks for sharing (: I too love in the nw corner of Washington and I have to say today was a beautiful day especially considering the type of weather we have had lately.. I watched the sunset as well and it wasn't as intense as in your photos, maybe it's the location/clouds/area still your photos are stunning!! Tonight is also perfect for star gazing and noticed some stars/planets that are super bright flashing even, just wish i didn't live so close to the city so I could get a better view of the stars.. Yes it's rainy and cloudy and all that here most of the time but when we get days like this it's worth the wait (:



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 01:28 AM
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reply to post by westcoast
 

Your link was better for "sun pillars". Caught this one. At first I thought it was one of yours...

www.bing.com...

Weird phenom. I thought at first they were sun dogs but this is different? Like an echo of the image of the sun.



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 01:49 AM
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reply to post by intrptr
 


Yah...the sun pillar is different than a sun dog.

Here a picture of a sun dog I took last year:






And this is a sun halo I got a year or so ago...(also associated with sun dogs)






The sun dog and halo is more prismatic or rainbow colors refracted where the pillar seems to be a more direct beam of light. Hope that helps!



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 10:55 AM
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WOW you are weather photog phenom! thanks fpr the pics!



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 11:48 AM
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reply to post by westcoast
 


Wow,those are some great pictures!!!



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 01:32 PM
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So any other avid weather people out there that may have a scientific view on this? I still haven't found anything like it in my searches. I DID find some other pics from somewhere further south last night, showing the same sunset but they were obivously closer to it and the water so did not have the same affect. (Or it may have been later after the pillar faded)

Several of my local friends saw it too, but didn't get pictures...at least not that I've found yet.

I am going to try and send it to one of the weather guys in seattle....I'll let ya know if I get a response.



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 04:05 PM
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So I at least found some proof that I am not the only one who saw this!! (or that I messed with the pic.
)

This picture is on our local Seattle news station facebook site...taken by someone in the town right next to mine. It is obviously the same sunset, from a bit of a different angle. Looks like it was taken out of a moving car with a phone camera, but you can clearly see the odd sun pillar!


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posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 04:28 PM
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reply to post by westcoast
 


Where's the snow?


Nice photo's and thank you for sharing.

We get to see these things on a regular basis due to all the ice in the air. I've seen Sun Dogs and these pillars a few times this year.

The Pillars are coolest at night. On clear nights sometimes we see Pillars above all the lights in the city which is rare but quite a sight.

The strangest I've seen was while on the freeway to Wasilla one night, the freshly painted reflective lines on the road had Pillars. Almost wrecked looking at them. They only lasted briefly but for about a mile my headlights were causing bright pillars going straight up from each line.

Looks like your having a mild winter, we are having a bitter one.



posted on Feb, 3 2012 @ 05:24 PM
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reply to post by Blaine91555
 


Thanks for sharing! I have seen some of those images of the pillars from lamp lights...pretty cool!


I have never personally seen one from the sun below the horizon like this before, I hope to see it again. I obviously have seen the sun halos and taken pictures (see post above) and sun dogs....I know that these are caused by the ice crystals refracting light. Funny how the halos and dogs tend to happen in the summer,and now I attribute them to heralding a change in weather..(usually rain the next day)

This pillar was different though...seemed like more of an optical illusion with the reflection of the sun going on. Have you ever seen one like that? Where it looks like the sun is actually behind the cloud rather than below the horizon? It was close to fifty out when this happened, but I know that doesn't mean much.

I'll be looking again tonight ofcourse.
Another absolutely beautiful day today. I have to admit that I even went out and sunbathed although it was only 49 degrees. I am vitamin D deprived and it felt SO GOOD!!!



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