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Colourful light pillars often appear in winter when snow or ice crystals reflect light from a strong source like the sun or moon. Aided by extreme cold, light pillars appear when light bounces off the surface of flat ice crystals floating relatively close to the ground.
Light PIllars, Walter Tape (Alaska Fairbanks) May 2006 flat fluttering ice crystals may form near the ground in a form of light snow, sometimes known as a crystal fog. These ice crystals may then reflect ground lights in columns not unlike a Sun-pillar.
Solar Pillars are caused by sunlight reflecting off the bottom of stacked plate-like ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. They are not considered that rare, but really strong, clear, vibrant ones like this one seen in Canada, are a real treat. Read more: www.dailymail.co....
The Optics of Cold, by David Cartier. Near Burwash Landing, on Kluane Lake, Yukon, Alaska: in temps - 45, with an approaching warm front pumping trillions of tiny ice crystals into the dry, cold air, creating patches of thick ice fog. In these conditions, light beams, even ones horizontally aimed, are deflected straight upwards by the floating ice crystals. The headlamps of approaching cars can be seen miles away as narrow pillars of light stretching directly up into the heavens.[Keep credits]