light pillars over China
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The natural phenomenon creates an amazing spectacle by creating pillars of light

Sun pillars form when falling ice crystals reflect sunlight during low temperatures


Mesmerizing multi-colored pillars of light appeared in the sky above a city in northern China last week.

Residents were dazzled as the beams appeared to burst from the ground in Xilinhot, Inner Mongolia, on Wednesday night.

The phenomenon is called a sun, light or solar pillar, reports People's Daily Online.

According to NASA, the rare spectacle occurs when falling ice crystals reflect sunlight as the sun rises or sets during extremely low temperatures.

"Ice sometimes forms flat, six-sided shaped crystals as it falls from high-level clouds. Air resistance causes these crystals to lie nearly flat much of the time as they flutter to the ground," NASA wrote on its website. "Sunlight reflects off crystals that are properly aligned, creating the sun-pillar effect."

Temperatures in Xilinhot plummeted to -20.2F on Wednesday, reports the Daily Telegraph, meaning it was the perfect condition for the natural light show.