On January 30th, 2017, Brittany Smarkusky of West Nicholson, Pennsylvania, was not only lucky enough to witness a very dramatic, sporadic weather display but was also able to catch it on camera. Living a bit off the beaten path, in an area traditionally known for its mountainous scenic landscape, Brittany was finally getting used to the relatively new distraction of gas drilling rigs in the region and the added brightness at night that came with the industry.
Certainly Not Gas Drilling Equipment
Heading home one evening, Brittany caught, as unfamiliar illumination on the horizon. Thinking that the light was more drilling equipment, Brittany was soon amazed. What she saw on that particular night was more than unusual and certainly not from the area’s gas drilling.
As she pulled closer, Brittany was awestruck by many brilliant lights. The radiance certainly was not created the gas industries machinery (in fact, there had been very little activity in the area for a while.) What Brittany saw was the most spectacular and beautifully glowing lights reflecting through the sky that seem to hang in the air.
Amazed, Brittany grabbed her new, barely even out of the box, Sony Alpha A6000 camera and snapped quite a breathtaking shot. The picture shows luminous columns of light floating in the air — like a scene directly out of a sci-fi movie. Weather conditions have to be particularly accurate to catch the stunning sight of what some call “ice pillars.” It’s an unusual, almost indescribably rare phenomenon.
Ice Pillar Picture Travels the World
Brittany’s picture would catch the attention of one of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s most prominent news station WNEP-16, “Check out what some people saw last night in the Nicholson area,” news anchor Jon Myer wrote on his Facebook post. “They’re apparently called light pillars.” To Brittany’s surprise, that picture would be shared well over 6,500 times in places as far away as China and featured on other television stations in the country.
Brittany stated, “It was strange and somewhat eerie, the scientific explanation seems almost too simple for such magnificent beauty.” According to sciencealert.com, “Light pillars occur in freezing temperatures when flat, hexagonal ice crystals appear low in the sky’s atmosphere.”
What Are Ice Pillars?
This rare and beautiful event occurs when ice crystals form collectively and create a giant reflective mirror. This mirror can reflect back any light source. Wikipedia puts it this way, “A light pillar is an atmospheric optical phenomenon in the form of a vertical band of light which appears to extend above and/or below a light source.
The effect, created by the reflection of light from numerous tiny ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere or clouds is incredible to witness. The light can come from the Sun (usually when it is near or even below the horizon), in which case the phenomenon is called a “sun pillar” or “ice shafts.”
A Sign from Beyond
Oh, but for Brittany, the presence of the awe-inspiring illumination had an even more profound, meaningful, and perhaps possibly even spiritual meaning of a very personal kind. Brittany views seeing this phenomenon as a message from heaven.
The event took place just 15 days after the passing of her beloved 21-year-old sister-law, whose life was tragically and unexpectedly taken by a blood clot. Whatever science was involved in creating this occurrence makes no difference to Brittany, who likes to think of it as an unbelievably, incredible way to remember and celebrate the life of her dear friend.