Friday, January 2, 2009
Light columns in Latvia, from SpaceWeather.com via adistantsoil.com -- thanks to Colleen for posting.
This is absolutely gorgeous, and it's an effect I've never seen before, nor have I ever seen anyone else use it -- isn't it just perfect for an alien planet, or a fantasy forest? They look kind of like trees, which makes me think "space elves," LOL! But seriously, something this beautiful just has to make it into someone's fictional world, or hopefully several. :)
Spaceweather says, "They appear during winter when city lights shine upward into the icy air. Reflections from plate-shaped crystals spread the light into a vertical column." I'd link, but it's on their front page (which I assume changes regularly) and there doesn't seem to be any way to get a permalink of this piece. They do have a link to another page of photos, including the one above and three others here.
Atmospheric Optics adds, "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 link goes to a page with more explanation, a diagram, and another light pillars pic, although this one doesn't have the spreading cones at the top.