The Planetarium and the Sun Pillar

A clear sky, a striking sunset, and the futuristic curves of a state-of-the-art planetarium and visitor centre — what more could you ask for in an ESO Picture of the Week?

However, this image has something else up its sleeve to delight us: a sun pillar. This softly-glowing column of light seems to rise from the horizon near the setting Sun, illuminating the sky above it. This illusion is created by millions of tiny ice crystals —  usually flat and hexagonal in shape — in our atmosphere, which reflect sunlight to form an apparent beam. Sun pillars are typically seen when the Sun is low in the sky, or when it has dipped below the horizon.

The last rays of sunlight have also interacted with particles in the clouds above, which have scattered the light to create a brilliant array of oranges, yellows, reds, and pinks in the sky above the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre. The ESO Supernova is the newest building on site of the ESO’s Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany. After its opening in April 2018, this cutting-edge centre will engage visitors with frontline science and ESO’s world-leading observing facilities.


About the Image

Release date:27 November 2017, 06:00
Size:5366 x 3577 px

About the Object

Name:ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre
Type:Unspecified : Sky Phenomenon : Light Phenomenon : Sunrise-Sunset : Sun Pillar
Unspecified : Technology : Observatory : Facility
Category:ESO Supernova

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