Anna Gragert
January 05, 2016 2:37 pm

Temperatures may be habitually dropping in China, but they’re also doing something else, something unexpected and super cool: Creating a stunning light show in the sky!

Within the Inner Mongolia-based city of Xilinhot, residents looked to the night sky and witnessed something unusual last Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. Yes, there was the inky darkness of the sky and a few stars here and there, but that’s now old news because, at the time, locals could behold something a bit different. Above the northern city, there appeared to be pillars of light stretching upward in an array of vibrant colors.

You would think that someone was creating a light show to celebrate the New Year, but no such event took place on that date and in that exact spot. In fact, what occurred was actually a rare phenomenon that can only take place in certain areas of the country.

Now, let’s get scientific. According to news reports, the temperature was approximately -29ºC. Thanks to this level of coldness and a high relative humidity, the water vapor in the sky transformed into ice crystals. Then, when lights illuminated the air (such as those on buildings or homes), this caused the ice particles to reflect the light and – alas! – the light pillars were born!

Even during the day, these pillars can form, but they’re known as “sun pillars,” according to meteorologist Wang Xueqiang.

Since these aren’t conditions that happen every day and in every part of the world, natural light pillars are quite rare. That would explain why many Chinese residents left their homes on Wednesday night to view the lights even though it was, ya know, BELOW FREEZING.

Then again, after watching the following video, you may understand why Jack Frost was battled for the sake of these lights:

Honestly, we’d be more accepting of the cold, too, if we could look at such a beautiful sight when leaving our home in the dead of winter.

(Image via YouTube.)

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