Alamut Castle Light Pillars

Kamyar Ghaedpour pictured this scene in Iran on December 22, '16.

Orion and Sirius gently shine through thin cloud. At lower right light pillars seemingly hang in the clouds. They signal the presence of plate aspect ice crystals over the cold mountain scape. They reflect lights of Qazvin 55 km away.

The foreground is dominated by Alamut Castle (Eagle's Nest). Its origins go back to the 9th Century Justanid ruler Vahsudan. Its history was eventful, including the foundation of a famous library with astronomical instruments.

Image ©Kamyar Ghaedpour, shown with permission

Light pillars

Sun pillars

Pillars with flared tops

Other artificial light halos

Town map in the sky

The pillars are illusions. They are the combined glints from plate crystals between the observer and distant ground lights. Their near horizontal faces reflect the lights back downwards. Unlike the formation of sun pillars, the crystals need not wobble from horizontal.