TECH

Stunning Light Pillars Phenomenon Sparks Claims Of An Alien Abduction

28/01/2016 10:37 GMT | Updated 28/01/2016 10:59 GMT

We know what you're thinking, it's aliens. It has to be, go and get your pitchforks, flaming torches and various other complaining implements and prepare for the worst.

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While most of the internet is ready to accept this image as viable proof of an alien invasion you'll probably have noticed that the international news organisations have been rather quiet about it. No it's not a government conspiracy, it's just that this isn't the start of an alien apocalypse at all, it's just a stunning natural phenomenon.

light pillars

Known as light pillars, the photographer has managed to capture one of nature's more impressive tricks in which a light source is 'projected' upwards.

light pillars

What's happening? Well the light is actually being caught by millions of tiny flat ice crystals in the air. The light then hits these crystals and reflects back into your eye, or in this case the lens of a camera.

light pillars

Most often the crystals will float quite close to the ground leading to what we commonly see as a halo or haze of light around the source.

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light pillar

When the crystals are found high enough though they can create huge pillars of light which at times can even appear as though they're radiating down from the night sky.

light pillars

Atmospheric optics explains the phenomenon in full saying:

"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.

Artificial light pillars can be much taller than their natural counterparts because rays from the lights are not parallel and plate crystals with small tilts can still reflect them downwards. The crystals producing the pillars are roughly halfway between you and the lights."