Long ago, people would navigate using the night sky – and in one community in Finland, people were able to do so again, at least for one night. Mia Heikkilä captured an image that shows a map made of light, hovering over the city of Eura on Jan. 13
The strange map was caused by a layer of ice crystals in the air reflecting light from the ground — in this case, the lights of the city. “There are millions of crystals and collectively they act as a single giant mirror,” the Atmospheric Optics website explains. This Google Maps image has been flipped to match what was seen in the sky. The Space Weather blog notes that while the “light pillars” that caused this image are common, seeing them like this is extremely unusual.
“Most people see pillars from the side, where they look like luminous towers, but not Heikkilä,” the website said. “She was located inside a nest of pillars rising from the center of town. Looking up, she saw the tips of the pillars tracing the illuminated streets of Kauttua.” Space Weather points out that the sky map was better than the printed maps because it had the latest changes.