Diamond Dust and Light Pillar

Diamond Dust is generally observed on a very cold, clear day or night, when very fine ice crystals develop and float through the air.  Because the ice crystals are so fine, they tend to produce a glittering effect when seen through light, and hence resemble tiny diamonds that flash through the air.  It produces several optical effects, such as halos around the sun or moon.

The photograph below (taken this morning in Williston, ND) shows one of these optical effects called a Light Pillar.  In this case, the diamond dust is made up of flat, hexagonally (six-sided) shaped  platelets. These platelets are oriented with the flat sides parallel to the ground. This orientation allows light to reflect and refract such that the light leaving the platelets is focused in a pillar shape. This phenomenon will continue as long as there is sufficient diamond dust in the air.  

 

 

 



Return to News Archive

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.