Science Space Otherworldly Light Pillars Captured Over Whitefish Bay By Michael d'Estries Writer State University of New York at Geneseo Michael d’Estries has been writing about science, culture, space and sustainability since 2005. His writing has appeared on Business Insider, CNN, and Forbes. our editorial process Michael d'Estries Updated November 04, 2018 Light pillars over Whitefish Bay on the shore of Lake Superior as captured by nocturnal photographer Vincent Brady. (Photo: Vincent Brady) Share Twitter Pinterest Email Science Space Natural Science Technology Agriculture Energy At first glance, the mesmerizing light display that occurred on Oct. 16 over Whitefish Bay, Michigan, had all the hallmarks of a visual effect from a science-fiction film. Instead of "first contact," however, this beautiful shimmer is actually a fairly common optical phenomenon called a light pillar. Light pillars form when sources of light from the ground, sun or even the moon interact with horizontal concentrations of ice crystals in the atmosphere. When viewed from a distance, these crystals align in such a way as to create the optical illusion of a dazzling pillar of light. Photographer Vincent Brady, who specializes in capturing nocturnal scenes, said in a Facebook post that he was "pleasantly surprised" to come across the phenomenon. "This is a shot north of Paradise, MI looking east over Whitefish Bay," he wrote. "The red lights are around the Canadian island Ile Parisienne. I'm not entirely sure of the artificial light source of the pillars."