I took the photo above with my cell phone. I was awestruck by the grandeur of this amazing phenomenon, and trust me, it was much more magnificent in person. A sun pillar was something I had never witnessed before. My first thought was that there was a break, or hole in the clouds causing this, but I quickly realized that the angles involved make this assumption physically impossible. With a quick bit of research, I found that sun pillars are created when millions of falling ice crystals reflect the sun's rays, creating a column of light. Because the crystals are shaped like plates, they wobble in their decent, and act like billions of little mirrors. This tends to happen more often at sunset than sunrise, with high cirrus clouds and falling temperatures. My post a few months back on Sun Dogs is similar, but the multiple columns are flanking each side of the sun, not the center.
There are many other great examples of Sun Pillars to be found on the net, and it makes for a great photo search. I added the two below as they have some great definition and color. To see more, CLICK HERE
The image (left) I created by combining my own photo and an ocean wave.