LIGHT PILLAR PICTURES: Mysterious Sky Shows Explained

LIGHT PILLAR PICTURES: Mysterious Sky Shows Explained
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February 18, 2009--Oddly extraterrestrial-looking, "broken" light pillars glow over Ath, Belgium, on November 20, 2006.

Explanatory diagram for light pillars


Here the ice crystals have clumped into layers in an ice fog (see diagram)--rather than spreading out evenly--according to physicist Les Cowley on his Web site Atmospheric Optics. As a result, light shining up from artificial sources, such as streetlights, is turned into dotted lines in the sky.

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— Photograph courtesy Joel Bavais; diagram by Les Cowley/Atmospheric Optics
 
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