By Mike Busch 1-1-2021

What turned out to be the last Sunrise of 2020 turned out to be one of the best.  As usual, I checked the surf cam as soon as I woke up and could see some wild sky already developing around 6:20 a.m.  Below is a screenshot from my phone.

Fire Island and Beyond Surf Cam

I headed down to Smith Point Beach and set up a little East of the Pavilion where I had the entire place to myself.

I set up one camera for some video and used the other for some different looks at a wild sky that put on an incredible and changing light show.  As you can see, what started out with a dark cloud bank and a little light on the horizon changed completely in a matter of minutes.  The highlight was a long-lasting Sun Pillar, a phenomenon caused by ice crystals slowly falling in front of a light source, in this case, the rising sun.   I caught another one in December 2018 that was featured in this article all about them on the Earth Sky Science website.  The pillar can appear both above and below the sun and as you can see in the last photos and time-lapse video, as the sun rose a new pillar appeared between the sun and ocean.

The top video is in real-time with natural sound, if you aren’t patient just watch the time-lapse below.  Both look better in full screen. 

More Photos on Pages 2 and 3