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Viewer Photos: Light Pillars in Havre

Posted at 12:03 PM, Jan 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 15:28:55-05

Melissa McLaughlin shared these photos with KRTV showing light pillars in Havre.

She sent the photos on Wednesday evening.

From the Accuweather website: "Light pillars are an optical phenomenon caused when light is refracted by ice crystals. These lights tend to take on the color of the light source."

The website Atmospheric Optics explains: "The pillars are not physically over the lights or anywhere else in space for that matter ~ like all halos they are purely the collected light beams from all the millions of crystals which just happen to be reflecting light towards your eyes or camera. The crystals producing the pillars are roughly halfway between you and the lights. When ice crystals float in the air around you, pillars (and other halos) can even be seen around streetlights a few metres away."

NASA explains that in most places on Earth, a lucky viewer can see a Sun-pillar, a column of light appearing to extend up from the Sun caused by flat fluttering ice-crystals reflecting sunlight from the upper atmosphere. Usually these ice crystals evaporate before reaching the ground. During freezing temperatures, however, 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.