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Mysterious Pillars of Light in the Sky

There's somethin' funny goin' on in the skies of Latvia. Designer Aigar Truhins took these photographs that have since gone viral on the Net.

'My son exclaimed, 'The aliens are coming!'' Truhins was quoted as saying. 'It certainly looked that way,' he added.

But experts are agreed there may be a more prosaic explanation - ice crystals in the air. The air above the town was notably cold and filled with suspended ice crystals. It is believed that the columns were formed by those reflecting light from the bright streetlamps and other lights on the ground - beaming it back downwards again.

Skies all over Europe have been filled with such natural phenomena during the cold snap of recent weeks.

Link (Photo: Aigar Truhins) - via Truemors

Ice crystals? That's the lamest scientific explanation I've heard all year (boo, science!). I vote for aliens, how about you?

Ice crystals? I don't seems odd that all the beams are shaped just like that...unless something funny is going on with the atmosphere in spots.
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Yes, it was ice crystals... ice crystals seeded by aliens!

Incidentally, the Telegraph has a short article confirming the ice crystal theory, with a nicer picture where you can see that the light is coming from streetlamps. They completely left out the aliens, though.
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sorry guys i think its ice crystals, I noticed this phenomenon while driving through Maine to Canada...
Light+crystals=cool light beams
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I didn't realize Tony Stark had a factory in Latvia...what are the odds that he'd have to overload the arc reactor to stop Stane in the Iron Mongrel there TOO!...

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The small crystals take the light produced by things such as street lights, headlamps on cars or even the moon and redirect it vertically producing the "pillar effect". This generally happens when the crystals grow with plate-like flat surfaces which can happen in this type cold weather.

Ice pillars usually occur several times each year when the weather conditions are just right.
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Ice crystals? Nope. Aliens? I don't want to beleive. Happening in in Latvia? Latvia! Obviously it's just another grand scheme by Doctor Doom leading to the destruction of the Fantastic Four once and for all! Bwahaahaahaa!
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We got ice light columns like that in Southwestern Michigan a few winters ago. I think it had been really cold and dry, then it got colder and we got some moisture from over the lake, but there wasn't enough to get snow. The ice crystals were just suspended in the air, like frozen fog. anywhere there was a street light or a traffic light, there was a column of light going into the air, because the light was reflecting and refracting off the ice crystals.

it was uber-cool.
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Funny, the morning news in Buffalo covered this last week when our temps were down around 2. They had some great pics of mall parking lots, every light casted a column.

Yeah, special flat ice crystals that form in extreme cold. I was half-tempted to take my laser pointer outside and shoot it straight up, then the risk of arrest dissuaded me.
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on the date of February 11th 2009 at around 9 30 to about 11 30 of that storm we had. well the wind was blowing really hard that night. I was feeding my cats and as i looked up i noticed the lights. strange at first i must admit but i didn't believe myself. So i looked longer the next time and a bright flashes of colors was in the sky. Ranging from colors like a very light blue, then a mixture of purple and red. i didn't believe my eyes so i told a buddy of my to come take a look and he seen them to.I didn't take any pictures because it was only a instant that it happened. kinda like 12 seconds of seeing them. I stayed longer in case that it might return and i had my camera this time but no lights. This was no search light, or a flare, or fireworks. The weirdest part about it is that it happened in Belleville Michigan
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