Pillars of Ice.

Light pillars only appear in winter when city lights shine upward into the icy air Photo: National?
The images were taken by designer Aigar Truhins with a standard digital camera in Sigulda, Latvia, last month. …

I wish I could take photos not like that but just ordinary ones would stisfy me. Until I wanted to reach such lofty pinnacles that is.

Absobloody beautiful:

Originally posted by The Telegraph:

The images were taken by designer Aigar Truhins with a standard digital camera in Sigulda, Latvia, last month.

The air was quite cold and indeed filled with small ice crystals, just the type known to create light pillars and moon halos.

Light pillars only appear in winter when city lights shine upward into the icy air. Reflections from plate shaped crystals spread the light into a vertical column.

They only happen when the crystals are oriented mostly horizontally and that happens when they are falling in calm air, like a leaf falling.

The reason why the dramatic pillars fan out at the top is currently unknown but could be a natural behaviour of the light itself. Even laser lights spread out over long distances.

In this case, there could be some wind higher up and it is calmer lower down, and the 'fan out' of the light pillars happens near the boundary between calm and stirred up air.

The crystals near the boundary would tend to be close to horizontal but as you get higher into the wind, their orientations are more dispersed, so the reflections would be more spread out form the vertical line.

The differences in colour responds to the source of the light. Mercury vapour lights are somewhat blueish or red, while high pressure sodium lights appear reddish or yellowish.


11 thoughts on “Pillars of Ice.

  1. I have seen something of that nature. A regular occurrence in Britain when it is wet and misty, you can see that you are approaching a town if you come in from the dark on a country road.The light pollution from sodium or mercury lights -street lamps, seem to gloom over the place, a yellowish smog-like effect that can be seen long before you get there. Maybe two or three miles distant.It is something that depends on the phase and should have alerted me to the fact there is more than simple timing to them. But I would never have suspected the role of hurricanes or earthquakes in those days.So perhaps it is just as well.*******Seeing as it is so still and humid on such occasions one wonders the effect of the heat of the lamp. It is obviously disturbing the air above it but heat like light is lensed. It is radiant.Blast, can't read the post and reply to it.So pushing out in all direction with equal force the advection makes it not na hemisphere but an hemielipse. At the top of the ellipse the light would give a different aspect as described, would it not?

  2. I remember when I was little and on the train travelling with my grandmother, I would stare out the window at night and see this strange light. My grandmother would tell me that there were small towns just on the other side of the hill and all the town lights were making the night sky glow. I wasn't convinced.

  3. The reason why the dramatic pillars fan out at the top is currently unknown but could be a natural behaviour of the light itself. Even laser lights spread out over long distances.[/b]Put a piece of paper across the column on the right to where the column seems to end (or is it another column behind it?) Mark the centre of the column to the edge and double it. That "minor axis" is about one third the height of the column to where it fans out from the ground. (Two from where I think the lamp is.)Another thing:Suppose the top isn't so much radiating out as being reflected or refracted back in.Of course, never having seen the thing in real life it is a wild guess again. How do you take account of the camera's lens distorting it? If any. Interesting numbers though. And it does look elliptical.

  4. I'm lookin SSE toward Shropshire, a county that gets more thunder than we do. Or rather there is something about the border that does. From here the grey clouds are almost blue and on the other side they will appear white. And overhead -over there, will be lighter, even clear blue sky.Then the clouds will look green to them and get black as the thunder comes in. That colouring will all appear as a rainbow effect to a plane flying over. Or it can do.But what you describe is what I was talking about. I guess it can happen in drier climes too then. Over here it is warm rainy weather. Not a common phenomenon when mists are related to cold weather.I don't live in a region that is a gift to weather watching. I can't see enough sky here. That breaks my heart. But there is always something isn't there?

  5. The train rides were travelling from Indiana to Arizona so we went through all kinds of territory. I did the paper thing. It's almost like there is a dome and that the pillars of light are fountains spraying up and hitting the dome. It sounds like it is cloudy all the time there. Quite the opposite here, always sunny.

  6. I find this sort of stuff fascinating. Fortunately I am not beguiled by maths or I'd soon get bogged down with the unnecessary.It is damp here but not unpleasant. When the NE USA gets ice storms we get "wet" snow. Not at the same time but if the spell is shifted 70 degrees east.Like the two similar spells at the end of last year/beginning of this. We had wet snow with the first then they had ice storms in Canada and the northern 'States.Same sort of spell, an anticyclone hitting a cyclone with the High to the west. The combined warm and cold wind goes south. It's colder when that happens over land as there is less heat coming out of the system (no latent heat involved as the air is dry in both streams.)By the time you get the Pacific air it has thrown the rain out at the Rockies. Almost all our weather comes from the North Atlantic which is warm to start with and any fall out is warmed again.It leaves the sea at 4 to 6 degrees and freezes as super cold water. From minus 40 to 6 degrees Centigrade sucks a lot of heat out of somewhere. It starts falling as ice or snow then warms up to 4 to 6 again.Over the Rockies it can get really hot with the pneumatics.And the air falls so quickly it has to invest in a force of its own, a vortex. It pushes air out of its way so it can fall faster. But it falls around the outside and that's why tornadoes have a contained hose going up that is the same vortex you find in water outflows -baths and sinks.But the air has to be still or it breaks the spell. Same with the sink. That's why the vortexes take so long to develop. That and the natural frequency of the bath.I wonder if the frequency of the lamp posts and their vibrations with the electronics has an effect on this. I think they have a transformer in them that you can hear humming on a quiet stretch of road.

  7. Not really. From the ground to the top of the post is x. From the ground to the refocus point or whatever it is called is 3x. And the width is is x/2 or something.NASA Saturn 5 rocket engines vibrated at the same speed as the natural frequency of the full rocket. That's why they got space sickness. The frequency just happened to be the human one for the point of hearing or something. 10 hertz IIRC.Something similar to the frequency that upsets people, whatever. The rockets were designed as the minimum requirements for the needs of 3 people going to the moon and back.We live with these sorts of things all the time without realising it. Lamp posts are built to an optimum height for humans given the light output and the power is dependent on other factors such as cheapest delivery which isn't good enough for the bulbs so they have to be stepped up or down or something with a transformer.Transformers buzz.Buzz buzz buzz buuz buuuzzzzz Buzz buzz buzz buuz buuuzzzzz.No?

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