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Light pillars, an incredible weather phenomenon, dazzle Northern Ohio sky

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Posted at 6:28 AM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 08:45:32-05

RICHFIELD, Ohio — What appears to be like something straight from a Sci-Fi movie, columns of light beaming upward toward the dark sky were a mesmerizing sight Wednesday.

This weather phenomenon called light pillars typically occur on cold, winter mornings when temperatures are a bitter 10 degrees or less.

"The pillars are not physically over the lights or anywhere else in space for that matter - like all halos they are purely the collected light beams from all the millions of crystals which just happen to be reflecting light toward your eyes or camera," according to the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

News 5 photojournalist Mike Vielhaber braved the cold and captured this dazzling sight Wednesday. When he took this photo in Richfield, his car thermometer read 3 degrees.

They're commonly seen when flat, hexagonal-shaped ice crystals reflect city lights. The crystals are usually found in higher-level clouds, but when the air is very cold, they float much closer to the ground, the NWS said.

Vielhaber captured light pillars at the same location in 2017.

The NWS in North Platte, Nebraska captured light pillars earlier this month.

To find a good source for a light pillar sighting, your best bet is to travel a few miles outside of your city on a dark, cold night.

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