Stunning Photo of Light Pillars, Columns of Light Made Possible by Ice Crystals


As if people up in the Nordic countries don’t have enough gorgeous scenery to hold over our heads (my chances of seeing the aurora borealis in Alabama are far slimmer) we now have yet another thing to envy them for: light pillars.

Light pillars are beautiful columns of light that only appear when specially shaped ice crystals float around at lower altitudes. Usually these types of crystals only form up in the clouds and evaporate as they get closer to the ground, but in freezing temperatures something called “crystal fog” can form near the ground, reflecting lights at ground level and causing the beautiful phenomenon you see above.

This photo was taken by Finnish photographer Thomas Kast, who captured the pillars last week on his way back from the store in -18°C weather (about -0.4°F). According to his blog, he actually owes this picture to his cats:

Last night I went to the grocery shop to get some food for our cats. I bought all kinds of things — except the cat food. I noticed that once I was back home and with -18C outside I really didn’t want to go again. But I did and luckily so!

For some reason I went to another shop and on my way there I saw light pillars popping up in the sky. Quickly buying the cat food I went home and grabbed my gear. The air was filled with dancing ice crystals, creating the illusion of light pillars for almost every light source. I saw them from head lights of cars and even the moon had pillars!

To learn more about this phenomenon, click here. And if you’d like to see a few more pictures of these light pillars or browse through all of Kast’s amazing photography, check out his blog and/or website by following the corresponding links.

(via APOD)

Image credits: Photograph by Thomas Kast and used with permission