RE: Svalbard mystery object

From: Juha Ojanperä via Seesat-l <>
Date: Fri, 27 Mar 2015 07:17:23 +0200
Hello Paul and others!

I totally agree with Richard with the theory of ice crystals. I'm an 
amateur astronomer/atmospheric optics observer from Finland, and also 
here we are having this phenomena every winter. We call these "the light 
pillars" or "artificial light pillars" or "street light pillars" in 
distinction from the so-called sun pillar or moon pillar. It is actually 
exactly the same phenomena though: the light is reflecting off the ice 
crystals, but the light source in the case of the "light pillars" is 
artificial one. Sometimes you only see a small fraction of the pillar, 
like the one in your photos, Paul! Then they may be quite difficult to 
recognize as light pillars. Sometimes they can be confused with the 
ray-type of northern lights.

Paul, you can compare your photos with my observation from January this 
year. In this observation, you can see a similar situation than in your 
photos in the third photo. There in the third photo you can see also 
just a tiny fraction of a light pillar and full light pillars in other 
photos. It's all Finnish, but you can at least see the photos.

I'm sure, that we can call this one a closed case now!

Best regards,

Juha Ojanperä, Finland

Richard Alan Keen via Seesat-l kirjoitti 26.3.2015 20:54:
> Paul,
> I agree with your conclusion of natural origin.  I went to your web
> link, looked at the photos, and immediately thought "light pillars
> from ice crystals".
> Here in Colorado they're fairly common when the temperature is below
> -15C (so you're not going to see them in Houston), and are due to low
> level ice crystals, not high clouuds.  You can get light pillars from
> the sun or moon in high cirrus clouds, but what you're seeing is
> reflections from ground lights.  I'm a meteorological observer, and
> this phenomenon has several names - light pillars, diamond dust, ice
> fog, and the prosaic "official" name that goes on weather reports,
> "Ice Crystals".
> Years ago (1960 or so) there was a neat picture of these on the cover
> of Sky & Telescope with an article explaining that they were not
> aurora, which is the first time I ever heard of this.
> Congrats on the eclipse - looks like you beat the odds up there!
> Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:30:59 +0000 (UTC)
> From: PAUL MALEY <>
> To: "" <>
> Subject: Svalbard mystery object
> Message-ID:  
> <>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> I spent last week in Svalbard at the northernmost inhabited settlement
> on the planet. ?This was my second trip there. ?The total eclipse of
> the Sun occurred March 20 and that night betweensunset and midnight I
> was able to see no less than 24 Iridium flares.??However, I need the
> assistance of experts on this list server to try to figure out the
> origin of a mystery object or objects that I photographed after
> midnight on March 21 from the area?near my hotel in Longyearbyen. ?I
> have built a web page with the account and 17 photos that will help
> perhaps. ?In all of my years of sky watching I have not seen
> an?apparition quite like this which appeared to resemble a rocket
> engine firing of some sort except that it occurs over ?a 45 minute
> interval. In fact, I had the impression that it was?visible well
> before I began photographing it with central brighenings occurring and
> reoccuring. ?If anyone has any technical explanation (especially
> anyone living at high latitudes where optical p!
> phenomenon are common), please forward it to me.
> Paul D. Maley
> email:
> ------------------------------
> Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:15:34 +0000 (UTC)
> From: PAUL MALEY <>
> To: Bj?rn Gimle <>
> Cc: "" <>
> Subject: Re: Svalbard mystery object
> Message-ID:  
> <>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> I am increasingly convinced of a natural origin rather than
> space-related. Thanks to all for your helpful comments. ?After seeing
> 24 Iridium flares in a row, I assumed my eyes were playing tricks on
> me.Paul?Paul D. Maley
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