If you were in northern Ontario last night, you might have seen a spectacular sight.
Woken up by his young son crying, Timothy Elzinga peered through the curtains of his house to see pillars of light dancing around in the shadows above.
“We can blame the two-year-old. He started crying at 1:30 am, so I got up and soothed him ... and out the window I had the perfect view of these dancing lights in the sky,” Elzinga told CBC News.
“I had to investigate,” he said, adding that he “got some pants on and ran outside and took some photos.”
Light pillars are a rather neat little optical phenomenon. They appear when layers of ice crystals form in the lower atmosphere above a source of artificial light on the ground. These crystals often form into flat hexagons and essentially become ephemeral mirrors.
Light reflecting back and forth between these icy panels creates the effect that there are pillars of light in the night sky. If they’re generated in the day, then they’re called sun pillars, but these are often more difficult to see. Either way, they’re pretty spectacular.
Compared to most examples, these particular light pillars were unusually close to the ground. This is because the air temperature that night was low enough to allow the icy mirrors to form at lower than normal altitudes.
Elzinga's light pillars. Timmy Joe via YouTube
“It looked like someone from Star Trek was trying to beam people up,” Elzinga said. “It was very bright in person, like nothing I've ever seen. It almost seemed supernatural.”
To see more of these beautiful images by Elzinga, click here.
[H/T: CBC News]