At 1:30 in the morning, while most of Ontario, Canada, was asleep, Timothy Joseph Elzinga was tending to his crying toddler. Then he looked out the bathroom window.
“I saw beams of light, looking like something out of Star Trek or Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Elzinga told Mashable on Thursday, nearly a week after he witnessed the so-called light pillars.
The vertical columns of red, blue, orange and white appear when light reflects off the flat, mirror-like surfaces of ice crystals. Light pillars are typically seen in polar regions but can appear at lower latitudes in frigid temperatures.
Elzinga lives in North Bay, Ontario, about a 3.5-hour drive north of Toronto. He said the temperature on the morning of Jan. 6 had dipped to minus-18 degrees Celsius, or minus-0.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I ran out in my pajamas, and quickly realized that I needed to bundle up,” he recalled.
Elzinga, who is a semi-professional photographer, captured the light pillars with his Samsung Galaxy 6S smartphone and promptly posted a video to his YouTube channel.
The light beams appeared for another 45 minutes after he first spotted them, Elzinga said.