Images of Stunning Light Pillars That Lit Up the Skies over Houghton, Michigan
Its as if you are witnessing Engineer Scotty beam down members of the Star Trek Enterprise. The beams of light descend down like beams of light from Heaven. If ever you've witnessed the weather spectacle known as light pillars, then you understand the state of awe it can cause as it did recently in the sky over Houghton and Hancock, twin cities at the very tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a region known as the Keweenaw.
In actuality, the light pillars are merely optical illusions more than they are signs from heaven. The phenomenon is caused by light refraction. What actually happens is, on very cold nights light from street lights and other artificial light sources is reflecting off of flat ice crystals (millions of them) that are descending lower and lower to the ground.
Now normally the flat ice crystals hang and chill around clouds way up in the sky where it can be really cold but comfortable for a flat ice crystal. Every once in a while though, when it gets really cold near the earth's surface (like recently) the little flat ice crystals get confused and tired and decide a little free fall is in order and away we go.
The folks at Atmospheric Optic seem to have a better explanation than I do, so please double-check my explanation as I'm not a scientist or meteorologist...I simply play one on the radio.
This now brings us to one Isaac Diener. Isaac is an awesome photographer who hails from Hancock, Michigan. Isaac was witness to a lot of lazy flat ice crystals falling to the earth near where he lives. Check out the awesome spectacle through the lens of a professional photographer and tell me we don't live on an amazing planet.
Thank you Isaac for sharing the light pillars with us for without it, I would have never known the phenomenon even existed.