Sometimes when the sky does something cool or unusual, people have the instinct to capture the moment.
Sophie Melanson did just that when she saw a vivid display of multi-coloured light pillars outside her house in Moncton, N.B., overnight between Friday and Saturday.
Her first few pictures were taken before she went to bed, around midnight, and she snapped more when she woke up the next morning at about 6 a.m.
She posted the photos on Facebookand Twitter where they were shared hundreds of times.
Melanson told HuffPost Canada that while she’d seen light pillars in her area before, these were the brightest.
Light pillars, like these ones, are an optical phenomenon that forms when light is reflected off of tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere. They take on the colour of the light source they are reflecting. In Melanson’s case, the blue likely came from blue LED streetlights and other artificial lights in the city.
For light pillars to form, conditions need to be very specific, according to Accuweather. The weather has to be calm, cold, and there can’t be very much wind. For the pillars to be visible, the ice crystals need to be close to the ground. Melanson said the temperature that night was around -13 C and felt like -18 C with the windchill. She’d also seen pillars two other times during the month.
The 44-year-old said she was excited when she spotted the lights in the sky.
“I was just about to go to bed and almost always look outside “just in case” something magical is happening in the sky,” she explained.
Melanson is a web developer, but said she picked up photography as a hobby. She acquired her first DSLR camera a few years ago, and said she’s been having a lot of fun with it.
While Moncton is a growing city, its light pollution is still low enough that Melanson can often take advantage of a stunning and clear sky for her photos. She’s caught other unique atmospheric illusions too.
“Sometimes we see moon halos or in the daytime, sun halos, or the northern lights when the conditions are just right.”
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