OP-PZ-03  << previous picture back to the gallery
light pillars over Portland
One of two remarkable shots taken by Victor VON SALZA of light pillars over Portland, Oregon, on March 18,2009. The lights were spotted at 11:01:30 p.m. On the photographer explains:

"To get a sense of scale, that's the bowl of the Big Dipper to the lower left of the brightest streak, and the two pointer stars of the big Dipper are about 5 (10 full moons apart). So this streak is about 3 full moons in length... and as the Pointer Stars indicate North is down and to the left of this image.

(...) The object and the brightest of the rays were visible to us for about 15+ minutes until the cloud cover thickened and it was obscured (...). And because we could see the streak and the brightest of the rays with our unaided eyes, that implies that the main streak and rays are not lens aberrations.

Although it did not appear to move or change size when viewed with the naked eye, the streak and rays can be seen to be moving (towards the bottom of this image) relative to the background stars when the two shots (taken three minutes apart) are stacked and blink compared, which shows that the object and all the rays seen here are moving together."

The video blink comparison image can be viewed at the flickr web page mentioned above.

This movement is interesting. Changes in the altitude of the ice-crystal cloud can cause light pillars to move up or down, but it is more likely that the movement of the stars (about 2 degrees in a 3-minute time lapse) explains the change in relative position between the stars and the pillars in the photos.

The camera used was a Nikon D300. The settings were: exposure time: 30 sec, aperture: f/3.5, ISO200, white balance: 2950K and focal distance: 18 mm (multiple by 1.5 for 35 mm equivalent focal length).