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What were those beams of light in the sky in Idaho Falls Wednesday night?

A picture of the ice pillars in Idaho Falls. | Courtesy Josie Carruthers
IDAHO FALLS — Multiple beams of ghostly white light lit up the sky in Idaho Falls Wednesday night and it looked more than a little alien.
But it turns out — this didn’t have anything to do with extraterrestrials or flying saucers.
Those phantom beams of light are actually optical phenomena called “ice pillars.”
According to Andrew McKaughan, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pocatello, ice pillars do not happen often. He explained to what creates the pillars.
“It’s light reflecting off the surface of ice crystals in the lower part of the atmosphere, and it just kind of makes those pillar columns that you see in the sky,” he said. “It could be from low clouds in the atmosphere … or even falling snow — the light reflecting off the falling snow.”
According to WX Observation, ice pillars, which are also called light pillars, extend vertically. It is somewhat rare, but when it happens, it shows a beautiful light over the night sky. Ice pillars are actually playing tricks on our eyes. No matter how real they appear, it’s an optical illusion.
“Think of it when you are outside in the summer, you see the colors of the rainbow in a sprinkler. It’s similar to that,” McKaughan said.
Ice pillars can form anywhere there is a stationary light source combined with horizontal ice crystals low in the atmosphere. They are normally found during very cold conditions.
“It has been quite cold over the last few weeks, so we certainly have plenty of ice crystals that are kind of suspended in the air,” McKaughan explained.
It’s typically reported in areas that see cold conditions more often than others, like the northern United States and Canadian regions. Ice pillars were recently reported illuminating the sky in Minnesota.

Courtesy Josie Carruthers

Courtesy Josie Carruthers
The post What were those beams of light in the sky in Idaho Falls Wednesday night? appeared first on East Idaho News.

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