Ice Light Pillars, Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, Canada
Photograph by Karl Johnston
I took this 5-shot panorama of this fascinating atmospheric phenomenon which I originally mistook for red aurora borealis curtains. It turns out that they are not aurora, although they move and shimmer like them from time to time. A light pillar is a visual phenomenon created by the reflection of light from ice crystals with near horizontal parallel planar surfaces. In the background you can see the rising fog of the frozen Slave River Rapids of the Drowned lit by the moonlight. This portion of the river never freezes and is open even in the balmy temperatures of today’s -30 Celcius.