SEATTLE - The Puget Sound region may be famous for its brilliant sunsets, but Tuesday night it opted for light over colors.
A thin layer of high clouds sat along the western horizon, providing an easel for the sun to put on a jaw-dropping show of refracted sunlight.
Photo: Paige Huang
A sun pillar, a 22-degree halo, and an upper tangential arc shine as the sun sets in Seattle on May 11, 2021. (Photo: Rebbecca Peterson Photography)
All of the glowing arcs are caused by the ice crystals in those thin clouds refracting the sunlight. The shape and location of the crystals are what make these intricate shapes.
Then as the sun sets, a new phenomenon joined the fray: a sun pillar. That was the vertical beam coming straight up from the horizon.
A sun pillar, a 22-degree halo, and an upper tangential arc shine as the sun sets in Seattle on May 11, 2021. (Photo: Brendan Ramsey)
For those that want to dive deep into the physics of this event, the great Atmospheric Optics website has all the details.
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