Weather phenomenon creates light pillars in Michigan sky

On a clear, cold night, at just the right angle, if you look up at the sky you may see a weather phenomenon that some people who live farther south may never see. They're called light pillars and here's how they are formed.

Light pillars are atmospheric optical phenomenon that look somewhat like spotlights shooting straight up into the sky.

They're formed by ice crystals that are suspended in the atmosphere. The ice crystals are hexagonal in shape - meaning they have six sides to them. When a light from your street hits the crystals at just the right angle, the crystals act like mini mirrors: they reflect the light down and also up into the atmosphere.

This is what creates the column of light - but it's entirely an optical illusion. If you were to get up close to it, there would be nothing to see. 

So, next time it hits the single digits on a clear, calm night - look outside and, if you see one, try and get a picture and send it to us!
 

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