Nils Ribi posted this photo at EarthSky Facebook and wrote:
I’ve been noticing these light pillars the last couple nights around Sun Valley, Idaho. These are from some brightly lit trees around 11:30 pm on January 1, 2017.
Light pillars form when a bright light source reflects off the surfaces of millions of falling ice crystals in the sky. The ice crystals are associated with thin, high-level clouds, for example, cirrostratus clouds. The crystals have roughly horizontal faces. They fall through Earth’s atmosphere, rocking slightly from side to side, and the light reflecting from them are what creates light pillars, and also sun pillars.
Thank you, Nils!
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.