Today the Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena introduces us to an incredibly beautiful nighttime occurrence known as Light pillars. They’re one of nature’s rewards for enduring extremely cold weather.

Light pillars are created when ice crystals with roughly horizontal faces form in the atmosphere and reflect light from the sun, moon, or even man-made sources such as street lights.

"So, how does one explain all of the colors? As the Weather Doctor states, ‘Because the light rays forming pillars are reflected, they take on the color of the incident light. For example, when the sun is higher in the sky, pillars are white or bright yellow in color. But when it is near the horizon and its light color dominantly orange, gold or red, so is the resulting pillar.’”

Light pillars have been known to be the source of false UFO reports, which doesn’t seem at all surprising when you consider the Close Encounters-esque atmosphere in each of these wonderful photographs.

Photos by Jay Callaghan, Osato Naoya, Francis Anderson, Tristan Grezko, and Jason Ahms respectively.

Visit My Modern Metropolis to view a few more.