Light Pillars

Light pillars are a phenomenon caused when a light source reflects off of ice crystals in the atmosphere. Light pillars form when bright light travels from a source such as the sun, the moon or street lights and passes through a concentration of ice crystals in a given location. Ice crystals are never the same shape, however the right conditions can form more elongated crystals that resemble pillars. When light hits these crystals it becomes reflected, refracted, scattered and bent. Because of this the light source can appear as a pillar from the viewer’s perspective.

Photo Credit: Tristan Gretszko

Photo Credit: Erlend Rønnekleiv

Photo Credit: Joseph N. Hall 2005

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