A ice pillar tower over a neighborhood ice rink last night. Ice pillars form when light reflects off snowflakes or ice crystals as they fall with their horizontal faces parallel to the ground. Bob King
On a walk last night, I saw a huge shaft of light standing up in the northern sky over a hockey rink a couple miles from my house. A dog barked from that direction, and when I strained to listen, I could hear slap of hockey pucks in the still air. A light snow fell. Can you guess what the beam was? A light pillar!
This detail view shows multiple streaks in the big pillar made by several light bunched close together. Bob King
Ice pillars form on very cold, calm nights when countless ice crystals gently flutter to the ground with their flat faces parallel to the ground. They reflect the lights below like tiny mirrors to create pillars or spikes of light above bright, artificial light sources. Sometimes the crystals are so fine, we don’t even notice them, but last night they peppered my windshield and piqued my nose.
Horizontal plate crystals reflect light to create ice and light pillars pointing up and ...