In photos: Stunning pillars of light over Ontario

Beautiful pillars of light in Peterborough, Ont. Courtesy Jay Callahan

TORONTO – It’s cold and it doesn’t seem to be going away. But at least it’s pretty.

Jay Callaghan, a photographer from Peterborough, Ont., captured beautiful light pillars early Tuesday morning as temperatures dipped to near -12 C.

“They were visible to the naked eye,” Callaghan told Global News. “But the camera, as with the Northern Lights, picks up more colours, especially on a 15-second exposure like these were.”

Light pillars are one of winter’s gifts, an almost apologetic gesture for the biting cold. And they can be stunning.

Another view of light pillars over Peterborough. File/Courtesy Jay Callahan

They are created when plate-shaped ice crystals are present close to the ground, rather than higher up in the atmosphere where they normally reside. Though it looks like the light is being sent upward, the crystals are actually sending the light back down.

Story continues below advertisement

Dave Patrick, a storm chaser also photographed the phenomenon on Feb. 15 in Fergus, Ont.

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

Though the light pillars are beautiful, they are the consequences of light pollution, light that is reflected up into the sky rather than down below where it is needed.

Lights from the ground that are reflected into the night sky are sent back down to their source via ice crystals, creating beautiful light pillars. Courtesy Dave Patrick (

Sponsored content