Ice Mirrors ~ Evening sun pillar imaged by Bill Purdy at Surf City, New Jersey. ęBill Purdy, shown with permission.
Sun pillars are not pillars at all, the apparent vertical shaft of light over the setting or already set sun is an illusion. That is not to take away their magic, the true magic is that they are glints of sun from millions of ice mirrors drifting in high and mid level clouds.

The mirrors are usually wobbly hexagonal plate crystals, larger and perhaps less perfect than those that form more precisely etched halos. The more wobbly the mirrors the taller is the pillar.
Atmospheric
Optics

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