Light pillars formed by Sarah-Jane Pepper’s home in the Webster’s Corners area. (Sarah-Jane Pepper/Special to The News)

Light pillars formed by Sarah-Jane Pepper’s home in the Webster’s Corners area. (Sarah-Jane Pepper/Special to The News)

Extreme cold contributes to light pillars spotted in Maple Ridge

Sarah-Jane Pepper spotted the light columns in the Webster’s Corners area

Sarah-Jane Pepper has always wanted to see the northern lights.

So when her husband ran into the house Monday night, Dec. 27, at about 11:30 p.m. and yelled at her that he could see the lights from the backyard of their Webster’s Corners property, she ran out.

But, to her surprise, it was not the Aurora Borealis that was creating the colours in the sky by her house, but a series of columns. The columns she saw were mostly to the north of her property, with a big pink beam to the south east.

Pepper took some photos and went inside to do some research.

In fact what Pepper just took pictures of are what are known as light pillars.

RELATED: Northern Lights spotted over Pitt Lake in 2021

ALSO: Aurora Borealis light up night sky above B.C. in 2017

According to Science ABC, a website dedicated to everything science related, light pillars are formed when temperatures are extremely cold and flat hexagon-shaped ice crystals, suspended in the atmosphere, but formed close to the ground, reflect natural and artificial light in columns, both above and below the light source. Light sources could include street lights or other man-made lights from the ground – or even the sun or moonlight. They are typically seen in Arctic regions because of the extreme cold temperatures, but have been spotted elsewhere around the world, although not often – including Iran where desert nights get extremely cold.

Pepper marvelled at how pink some of the columns were when she first rushed out to see them.

Her pictures, she said, do not do them justice.


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