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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Jurgów. Pillars of light shot into the sky. Light poles – what is it, how does this phenomenon occur?

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Light poles appeared in the sky of Lesser Poland on Thursday night. This spectacular phenomenon can be observed especially on frosty nights, mainly in northern Europe. What is the cause?

On the night from Wednesday to Thursday, the sky above Jurgów (Lesser Poland Voivodeship) was illuminated by elongated pillars of light. This phenomenon looks otherworldly, but it has a completely earthly origin. However, specific weather conditions are necessary for its formation.

Frosty, windless nights

As tvnmeteo.pl forecaster Daniel Kowalczyk explained, light poles are light columns that take the form of optical phenomenon formed in the atmosphere as a result of light reflecting off tiny ice crystals in the air. It occurs at night during windless, frosty weather over artificial light sources of sufficiently high intensity, for example street lamps. A similar phenomenon, the source of which are the natural rays of the Sun – just before sunrise or just after sunset – is called a solar column.

– On the night of November 22-23, clear weather appeared over the southern edge of Poland, which, with the inflow of a cold air mass, contributed to temperature drops in the foothill areas to -6 and even -8 degrees Celsius. So such a phenomenon could definitely have happened in Jurgów. Ice crystals were formed as a result of water vapor in the air freezing during a frosty night, the forecaster said.

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“Due to the colder climate, they are more often observed in northern Europe (e.g. Finland, Sweden, Norway) than in our country,” the Polish Storm Hunters wrote on the social media.

tvnmeteo.pl, Polish Storm Hunters

Main photo source: Mikołaj Madeja, Małopolska Storm Hunters

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