If you've never seen light pillars before, it's totally understandable if you think these gorgeous beams are otherworldly. After all, the natural phenomenon is so rare south of the polar regions that several people have actually reported them as UFO sightings. But there's no "E.T. phone home" at work with light pillars; these stunning sky sights are completely and entirely of this world.
What are light pillars?
The name "light pillars" describes a weather phenomenon in which narrow rods of light appear to extend from the sky down to the ground in a striking optical illusion. The illusion is formed when cold winter air allows flat ice crystals to drop lower to the ground. So the thin rods of light that you see are actually the lights from street lamps and other light sources hitting those ice crystals.
Light pillars are a common sight in regions close to the Arctic. But when the cold blast dips further south, they can be spotted in states like Ohio. When they are, it's so eye-catching that one internet commentator who happened to see the pillars in Ohio said, "My first thought was, 'It's the rapture and I've been left behind.'" For many stargazers, light pillars are a sight for sore eyes, and we can't help but agree. We guess experiencing an Arctic blast isn't all bad after all!
As if the shape of the optical illusion wasn't beautiful enough, light pillars can come in many different colors — based on whatever light happens to be illuminating them. Many lights appear white, while others are tinted orange, green, red, or yellow. Just imagine what they'd look like over a bustling city!
Scroll below to see some of the most amazing photos of light pillars on the internet today.
Beautiful Light Pillars
(Photo Credit: Instagram/@wonderlustrs)
(Photo Credit: Instagram/Will Dunn)
(Photo Credit: Martin Cairns/@martincairns)
(Photo Credit: Instagram/Dar Tanner)
(Photo Credit: Instagram/@laarascenes)
(Photo Credit: Instagram/Ray Majoran)
(Photo Credit: Instagram/Noah Pollock)
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(Photo Credit: Instagram/Josef Torneros)
(Photo Credit: Instagram/Eelke Plantinga)
(Photo Credit: Instagram/Johannes Karhula)