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APOD: 2024 March 4 Light Pillars Over Inner Mongolia
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APOD: 2024 March 4  Light Pillars Over Inner Mongolia
Credit & Copyright: N. D. Liao
Explanation: What's happening across that field? Pictured here are not auroras but nearby light pillars, a phenomenon typically much closer. In most places on Earth, a lucky viewer can see a Sun pillar, a column of light appearing to extend up from the Sun caused by flat fluttering ice-crystals reflecting sunlight from the upper atmosphere. Usually, these ice crystals evaporate before reaching the ground. During freezing temperatures, however, flat fluttering ice crystals may form near the ground in a form of light snow sometimes known as a crystal fog. These ice crystals may then reflect ground lights in columns not unlike a Sun pillar. The featured image was taken last month across the Wulan Butong Grasslands in Inner Mongolia, China.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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Based on Astronomy Picture Of the Day

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