Extraordinary images show 'light pillars' dancing above houses after sunshine and snow combine to create rare effect
- Stunning pictures have shown rare light pillars forming over Canada after freezing temperatures of -18C
- They are caused when moisture in the air freezes over and remains stationary in vertical shafts towards sky
- They then reflect artificial light coming from the street and create an effect similar to the Northern Lights
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A picture captured by Darelene Tanner in Alberta, Canada, where temperatures plunged as low as minus 18 and created light pillars
The pillars then get their distinctive colours when they reflect artificial lights coming from the street and neon signs
"Light pillars are an atmospheric phenomena created when tiny ice crystals reflect either natural (sun or moon) or artificial light (such as streetlights)," says The Weather Network meteorologist Erin Wenckstern.
"This type of ice crystal is flat and hexagonal in shape, and when they are suspended in the air, together they act like a gigantic mirror, reflecting the light source upwards or downwards."
They are known to appear during extremely cold nights, when ice crystals form closer to the ground, rather than high up in the atmosphere, adds Wenckstern.
A road in Blackflads in Alberta where the light pillars were formed thanks to the light over some industrial units
Ontario - Timothy Elzinga, 33, had got out of bed when his two-year-old son Gibson started crying - and he noticed the incredible light show outside. The temperature was -18C.
The pillars are caused when temperatures plummet so low that water molecules in the air freeze but remain stationary in vertical shafts
Unlike the natural northern lights, light pillars can be partly man-made and there are no magnetic fields involved.