Light pillars are mysterious vertical beams of light seen around the globe. What exactly are they?
Though some have been reported as UFO sightings, light pillars are actually a naturally occurring phenomenon that are commonly explained as optical illusions.
If you’ve never seen one, light pillars are beautiful beams of vertical light that extend from bright light sources, such as the sun, moon, or even a bright city light.
Image: Nat Wilson
These ethereal light shows are explained by scientists as atmospheric “optical phenomenons” that are created when light is reflected from numerous tiny ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere.
The crystals responsible for these brilliant light shows are flat, hexagonal plates that rest or fall horizontally through the air. Their collective light-reflecting surfaces act as a giant mirror in which light is beamed upward.
Light pillars over Laramie, Wyoming. Image: Christoph Geisler
As crystals are disturbed by turbulence in the air, their angles deviate slightly causing the reflection to become enlongated into a giant column.
The result is one of the world’s best light shows! See some of the most beautiful light pillars captured on camera in the video below…