Videos and photos of mysterious pillars of light in the sky over several Russian cities are circulating on Twitter. A weather expert clarifies at merkur.de.
MOSCOW – During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, mysterious light formations appeared over several Russian cities. They rose up into the night sky like pillars. Photos and videos quickly spread on the social network Twitter, and the cities of Moscow, Murmansk in the north-west of Russia, Omsk and Belgorod near the Russian-Ukrainian border were affected.
Pillars of light over Russian cities: riddles about laser weapons or weather phenomena
Twitter is now puzzling over what the light pillars are and what the cause could be. Some users speculate that it could be the Russian weapon “Peresvet”, a system presented in March 2018 that blinds enemy weapon systems at a distance of up to 1500 kilometers, rendering them incapacitated. There is no evidence for this. It is also unclear when exactly the photos were taken.
Others assume a weather phenomenon, the so-called “light pillars”. Such pillars of light had already been observed in previous years. According to the German Weather Service, these natural spectacles can occur on particularly cold nights with polar snow and special conditions. The “Light Pillars” are “an optical illusion created by collectively reflecting light (eg a street lamp, d. editor) on the small ice crystals.” Because of the smooth surface, these would act like a mirror in the air, writes the DWD on its website.
Pillars of light over Russian cities: BR weather expert does not assume a natural phenomenon
Christian Lorenz, weather expert of the Bavarian radio, but considers this unlikely. “Light pillars” are formed when the water vapor in the air freezes into ice crystals in extremely cold weather, Lorenz said BR24. When light falls on these ice plates, they reflect the rays, but only at a certain angle, so that the viewer can only see the light from the column at a suitable distance. “It’s a similar phenomenon to the rainbow,” explains Lorenz.
At the same time, he emphasizes that extreme cold is a prerequisite for this meteorological phenomenon. It is currently too mild in Russia for that, says Lorenz. For the BR weather expert, the “Light Pillars” are no longer an explanation for the mysterious light columns.
“Light Pillars” over Russia: DWD speaks of “completely normal halo phenomena”
However, there is a small but subtle difference in this weather phenomenon. If a pillar of light appears close to the ground, it needs low temperatures and snow. So-called cirrus clouds, i.e. ice clouds at a height of eight to twelve kilometers, are sufficient for light columns higher up. Andreas Friedrich, press spokesman for the DWD, is opposite Merkur.de therefore also assume that the light columns above the Russian cities are “completely normal halo phenomena”. The weather conditions in Russia are not such that columns of light could form close to the ground, but they do in connection with cirrus clouds.
When asked about the photos circulating on Twitter, Friedrich says: “Some of the videos and photos clearly show that they are halo phenomena that were triggered by the moon. So typical columns of light that arise in connection with cirrus clouds.” However, not all recordings can be traced back to these halo phenomena. Some of the pillars of light look like headlights. “But it could certainly also be fake photos,” says Friedrich. “You would be surprised what comes before my eyes.” (fmü)
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