Check out these light pillars over Peterborough on Wednesday night

Jim Webster captured the atmospheric phenomenon where light reflects from ice crystals in the atmosphere

Light pillars above Peterborough on January 26, 2022. (Photo: Jim Webster)
Light pillars above Peterborough on January 26, 2022. (Photo: Jim Webster)

Did you see the light pillars above Peterborough on Wednesday night (January 26)?

Peterborough resident Jim Webster shared some photos of light pillars he captured on his iPhone 13, looking south at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Although they look like something out of a sci-fi movie, light pillars have a natural explanation.

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“Light pillars are a result of light reflecting off ice particles high in our atmosphere,” Webster tells kawarthaNOW, adding that in one of his photos you can see the Orion constellation above the light pillars, as well as the star Sirius down to the left.

According to Wikipedia, a light pillar is an atmospheric optical phenomenon in which a vertical beam of light appears to extend above or below a light source, or both.

The effect is created by the reflection of light from tiny ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere, or that comprise high-altitude clouds such as cirrostratus or cirrus clouds). The appearance of light pillars as vertical lines is an optical illusion, resulting from the collective reflection off the ice crystals.

While relatively rare, light pillars have been captured by various photographers in the Peterborough area during past winters.

The Orion constellation appears above the light pillars in this photo. (Photo: Jim Webster)[
The Orion constellation appears above the light pillars in this photo. (Photo: Jim Webster)[
 Another view of the light pillars.  (Photo: Jim Webster)
Another view of the light pillars. (Photo: Jim Webster)