Blessed in the west.
I feel blessed that my horizon in the West of Ireland is so rich. My views towards the West offer many visual gifts throughout the seasons. It always feels good to look at the horizon; something about openness and unpredictability is constantly good for the soul. Sun pillars are, however, occasional but always stunning. The Sun is not too far below the horizon in the summer months—a column of light forms just above where the Sun has receded to our eyes.
Sun pillar on the horizon
One of these events occurred to the left of Clare Island in June 2023. It was a conical shape, similar to the light beams used in rock concerts to announce the star’s arrival. However, in this case, the light is reflected off ice crystals stacked in our atmosphere. These crystals were arranged
to create a sun pillar, a beautiful and intriguing light sculpture. The crystals worked together harmoniously, tilting the sun’s light towards our eyes. Thereby creating beauty that would pique anyone’s curiosity.
I captured a few images then and even made a small sketch. Recently, I produced this painting. It reminded me of the first sun pillar I saw many years ago. Wondering what that was back then, I found Atmospheric Optics, which has a smorgasbord of phenomena to enjoy. We get deeply coloured rainbows here and frequent moon halos. More recently, we had some Polar Stratospheric clouds. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the right place at the right time to observe them.
It is essential to try to understand the optical phenomena that surround us. Understanding anything about our planet is enriching. Getting a handle on the interaction of our star with our everyday lives is joyful. We should never take our star for granted. Rainbows, Moon Halos, Sun pillars, and the play of light with our atmosphere from our star remind us it is still there. It is our life; it is the origin of our planet. Among other things, our Sun creates the wind and turns plants into nourishment for us. All power on Earth has its genesis in the Sun’s energy in one way or another.
I am writing this during a massive storm; Storm Isha’s winds are generating lots of grid power today. Winds are gusting over 100 km per hour at the moment. I will no doubt lose power here on the edge of Europe when the wind turns from SW to West later this afternoon. Today’s western horizon is filled with dark clouds and massive waves as I travel through space on our life-giving, ever-changing bubble.
Earth is the only planet that we know of that can support life. If we think about that for a while, doesn’t it make sense to do the best we can for our home in space? Educate our children to do their best for humanity and our home. Many statistics show that the potential for life existing elsewhere is massive. However, we can only deal with what we know. We humans will ultimately benefit our futures if we collectively accept our home as an extraordinary place.