These protracted light streaks may appear to be marking the locations of some fabled objects or mystery boxes, but they are actually the result of a rare natural occurrence. What might bring about the emergence of these amazing beams, which have also been linked to some UFO sightings?
Although being outside in bitter cold may not be pleasant, freezing temperatures also produce these breathtaking sights. Only when the air temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) can they erupt. A light source of some sort is also necessary for the phenomenon to take place.
Ordinary street lamps will typically work.
So wait, these light pillars are coming from basic street lamps?
Well, technically yes, but a greater role in the occurrence of this phenomenon is played by the hexagon-shaped ice crystals that manifest in the air, when temperatures drop below 0 degrees. Usually these evaporate before reaching the ground, but in freezing temperatures, flat flickering ice crystals may form near the ground as well, similar to a form of light snow. Also, the air has to be calm and free of wind, because it can disrupt the reflection of light.
These crystals consist mostly of flat plates, which tend to orient themselves more or less horizontally as they fly through the air. Once enough of them appear, they will reflect bright light sources which are positioned below them. Like tiny mirrors, they bounce the light back down to us and creating a light pillar in the sky.
People often mistake them for UFOs at Niagara Falls, according to EarthSky.org, where higher numbers of UFO sightings are reported when during winter, the icy mist from the descending water interacts with the city lights.
Indeed, they may look a bit unusual; however, they are far from being a light from space, or of a UFO.
Not only artificial lights are capable of creating light pillars, though. Our own star, the Sun, is able to pull off its own light pillars, but in this case sun pillar is the appropriate term to use. Sun pillars occur before sunset when the sun is low enough in the western sky, or at daybreak, when it is low in the east. Also, clouds must be thin enough to allow enough light to reach our eyes to witness the pillar.
Sun pillars also appear as a beam of light, with the difference of extending from the sun.
In fact, light pillars are quite rare, since many factors have to be met in order to see them; but once the pillars are formed, they are a going to be a real visual treat to any observer.