Streaking Light Pillars Illuminate the Night Sky


The natural phenomenon known as light pillars are making headlines once again due to one photographer's incredible capture of them one recent cold and late winter night. Photographer Jay Callaghan shot the beautiful photo (above), on his back deck at 1:45 am as he was looking northeast toward Chemong Road in Peterborough, Ontario.

When extreme cold weather hits, ice crystals or tiny discs of ice may form. Usually these ice crystals evaporate before ever reaching the ground. When sunlight or moonlight is reflected on these ice crystals, thin columns that extend vertically above and/or below the source of light are created.

“One benefit of being a night owl and staying up late is I capture moments that other ‘normal' sleeping people miss.” – Jay Callaghan

So, how does one explain all of the colors? As the Weather Doctor states, “Because the light rays forming pillars are reflected, they take on the color of the incident light. For example, when the sun is higher in the sky, pillars are white or bright yellow in color. But when it is near the horizon and its light color dominantly orange, gold or red, so is the resulting pillar.”

Here are some more examples of this stunning visual phenomenon that have been shot by photographers worldwide.

Above photo: Peterborough, Ontario

Hokkaido, Kitami City, Japan
Photo: Osato Naoya

Tuktoyaktuk, NT Canada
Photo: Francis Anderson

Jackson, Wyoming
Photo: Tristan Grezko

Atchison, Kansas
Photo: Colt Forney

Laramie, Wyoming
Photo: Christoph Geisler

McMurdo Sound, Antarctica
Photo: dj (cheeseloaf)

Tampere, Finland
Photo: Piia Anneli

Tampere, Finland
Photo: Atacan Ergin

Fairbanks, Alaska
Photo: Jason Ahms

Fort Wainwright, Alaska
Photo: Joey Holliday

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