Stunningly rare natural phenomenon lights up Pennsylvania sky

NICHOLSON (WNEP) -- There was a rare natural sight that a lot of people saw in parts of Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, this week called light pillars.

One woman's photo of them quickly went viral on Facebook. We talked to her about what she saw in Wyoming County and why she calls it a spiritual experience.

Brittany Smarkusky saw it shining in the sky when she arrived home in Nicholson Monday night.

"It was so strange," said Smarkusky. "I was like, 'Oh, my God! It's an alien abduction!' I don't know. It was crazy!"

She wasn't alone. We got photos from the Chapman Lake area of Lackawanna County. Numerous people tell us they saw towers of light throughout the night sky.

"They were in the entire night sky, and it was pitch dark out, and it was amazing how the camera picked up all the color and all the lights," said Smarkusky.

They are called light pillars and they are rare, requiring the perfect conditions in the atmosphere to capture light sources from below reflecting off ice crystals.

"It was a very cold, dry night that night, and in the atmosphere, there are little plates of ice. As they tumble through the atmosphere, they reflect light when the plates are perfectly aligned, so you're seeing the reflection from a light source," explained WNEP meteorologist Joe Snedeker. His wife saw them, too.

"She was going to wake me up. It was that exciting. They're beautiful."

We talked to Brittany Smarkusky on the job at Shabby Shek Salon in Tunkhannock. She's gotten a lot of attention since her photo spread so quickly on Facebook.

For her and her husband, though, the experience of being surrounded by these pillars of light was spiritual and emotional.

"My sister-in-law just recently passed away," Smarkusky said.

That loss happened suddenly just three weeks ago. Brittany and her husband felt Brianna was with them as the sky around them glowed.

"So we decided that was her, saying hi to us, you know?"

Brittany Smarkusky tells us she is making copies of this photo for all of the family. It meant that much to her and her husband seeing this phenomenon in the sky.

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