January 18, 2016 2:23 pm

Weather phenomenon creates street map in the sky

Another view of light pillars over Peterborough, Ontario.

File/Courtesy Jay Callahan

On Jan. 12, Mia Heikkilä of Eura, Finland, looked up to the night sky and saw something unusual: a map of her surrounding streets.

This wasn’t some sort of alien message. It was an unusual occurrence of light pillars.

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Light pillars themselves aren’t uncommon in the cold winter months. You may have spotted them yourself (they are sometimes erroneously believed to be the northern lights). However, usually they look like their namesake: pillars of light stretching into the sky.

READ MORE: 5 amazing weather phenomena to keep an eye out for this winter

These pillars of light occur when plate-shaped ice crystals are present close to the ground (rather than their usual spot higher up in the atmosphere). And though it looks like the light is reaching upwards, it is, in fact, sending the light back down.

Dave Patrick photographed light pillars in Fergus, Ont. on Feb. 15, 2014.

Courtesy Dave Patrick (http://www.ontarioweather.com)

Heikkilä actually provided a map of her street for a side-by-side comparison.

Why were these so different?

Instead of seeing the pillars from the side, Heikkilä was right smack in the middle of pillars looking up.

These stunning pillars of light are a reminder that, while winter can be a dreary season, it provides plenty of beautiful weather phenomena to make up for it.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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