Photographing Light Pillars in Cold Conditions

Have you ever seen strange beams of light emanating from the ground and going skyward? Perhaps you’ve wondered what this strange phenomenon might be. Aurora Borealis? Or maybe even laser beams fired by visitors from another planet? The answer is they are neither. Timmy Joe has an explanation:

Earlier this month Joe was awakened in the middle of the night by his toddler son. It’s lucky he was awake at a strange house, because that’s when Joe noticed these strange lights shimmering in the distance. This is what he saw through his bathroom window:

middle of the night light beams

At first he assumed he was seeing the Northern Lights.

“These light beams were emanating from the ground just like blasting into hundred feet in the air, and they were shimmering, moving.”

He rushed outside to investigate and captured some shaky footage of the incident on his phone. Hoping to get a better view from some place with less light pollution, he made his way to a nearby hill. Lo and behold there were no more light beams!

However, just as he was making his way down the hill, the light beams reappeared and this time he realized that they were emanating from the ground.

frozen air light beams

So what were they really? Light pillars. These have nothing to do with Northern Lights, the Earth’s magnetic field, or aliens, for that matter. The answer is much simpler. He was seeing moisture that froze quickly because of the extremely cold weather. The pillars are made of frozen little molecules that remained suspended in the air. The “frozen air” gave light a conduit to shoot through straight up into the sky, providing the light pillar effect.

Have you ever seen this happen? Do you have photos?

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One Comment

  1. Stan Hingston says:

    We see them frequently up here in Saskatchewan during the winter, usually when meeting a car over a hill at night.

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