‘A magical show!’. A fascinating and rare meteorological phenomenon, columns of light, was recently observed in the St. Petersburg region. Witnesses to the scene shared the images of this false “aurora borealis” on social networks.
Aurora borealis? The St. Petersburg region’s residents recently witnessed a rare and magnificent celestial spectacle, easily mistaken for an aurora borealis: columns of light appeared on the night of January 14-15.
Impressive photos attesting to the phenomenon have been posted on social media by many former northern Russian capital residents and its surroundings.
“It’s 3 am, and it’s -21. Of course, it is high time to go to bed but look at the sky […] It is not an aurora borealis, but another meteorological phenomenon, luminous columns or pillars. A magical show!” Says the caption of a photo posted on Instagram.
Another netizen shared a whole series of spectacular photos of the phenomenon taken in the Duderhof Hills area, a small mountainous region southwest of St. Petersburg.
The light from the streetlamps?
A luminous column is indeed a white light trail, continuous or not, observable vertically above and below the Sun or the Moon. Usually, the phenomenon is visible when the Sun or the Moon is near the horizon, so it usually occurs at the rising or setting of these stars.
The illuminated pillars observed in the city known to have been the Russian capital were caused by ice crystals in the air, reflecting the light of the street lamps.
It is worth noting that light columns are more common in the cold season. Currently, temperatures are quite low in Saint Petersburg: it is -17 degrees during the day and -20 at night.