Rare Winter Phenomenon Lights Up The Night Sky

We've all heard of the Northern Lights. They're a phenomenon so breathtaking, so unlike anything we see in our day-to-day lives, that it's hard to believe they're caused by something here on Earth and not aliens from another planet. Well, there are probably a few conspiracy theorists who might try to tell you otherwise, but, their expert opinions aside, there is a perfectly good scientific explanation for what causes them. The Northern Lights occur when gaseous particles from earth collide with those from the sun's atmosphere. It's hard to believe that something as simple as two different types of gas particles colliding could become one of the most photographed natural occurrences on earth.

Similar to the Northern Lights are "light pillars" and, while you may not have heard of them before, they're no less impressive. Unlike the Northern Lights, light pillars can happen anywhere if the temperature and weather conditions are perfect. They occur when the temperature is in the freezing range and there is a large source of light nearby that strikes the clouds just right. This can be the sun, the moon or even something like street lights. 

The images below show off light pillars from around the world in all their glory. Scroll through to learn more about this remarkable natural phenomenon and how you can spot one yourself if the night is right.

Imagine walking outside and seeing this. These light pillars look like something straight out of a science fiction film. While the science part is true, these beautiful beams are far from fiction.


When the temperature is in that perfect zone of freezing-but-not-too-freezing, hexagonal crystals begin to form in the air. If you catch them at the right angle, these crystals reflect surrounding light.

Adam Kraft


The light pillars seen here are a result of "terrestrial light," or any light produced by the earth. This includes streetlights, traffic lights and even lights from buildings.

Adam Kraft

Unfortunately, these beacons don't last for long since the reflection from the crystals changes as they move through the sky. If you aren't quick on the draw with your camera, you'll just end up taking a picture of the regular night sky, which, as beautiful as it is, ain't got nothing on these dazzling displays.


These pillars appear to be a combination of terrestrial light and sunlight. It almost looks as though they are dancing out of the sunlight, bringing their beauty to the rest of the world.

Joey Holliday

As you can see, light pillars can be many different colors depending on their source.

Nat Wilson

These pillars resemble giant lightsabers.

Adam Kraft


Are we sure these are light pillars and not some sort of alien abduction?

Christoph Geisler

This picture looks like the photographer moved the camera and caused the light to blur, but it's actually nearby light pillars.


Some people view light pillars as a sort of "map of lights." The large, yellow pillar in the middle of this photo is Stockholm.


As you can see, light pillars are almost a direct reflection of the lights below them. So, what are you waiting for? Bundle up and snap some pictures of this fascinating phenomenon before it disappears.


Via: Little Things

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