21 October 2018

Floating Light Pillars ~ SpaceWeather.com

Source: SpaceWeather.com

FLOATING LIGHT PILLARS: On the night of Oct. 16th, Vincent Brady of Paradise, Michigan, went outside to look for auroras. He saw something similar--yet completely different. "There were colorful pillars of light floating over Whitefish Bay," he says. "What a pleasant surprise."

These pillars resemble auroras, but they have nothing to do with space weather. Light pillars are caused by ice crystals in the air which intercept manmade lights and spread them into colorful columns. No solar activity is required for the phenomenon. The only ingredients are ice and light pollution.

"The red lights are from wind turbines around the Canadian island Ile Parisienne," explains Brady. Other colors correspond to high pressure sodium lamps (warm orange) and modern LED lamps (blue-white).

Light pillars are a common sight at northern latitudes, especially when freezing winter air fills with crystals of ice. Normally, however, light pillars spring up from the ground where the urban lights are located. "These were floating high above the ground," notes Brady. "That must have been where the ice crystals were on this early autumn night."


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