The Curious Incident of the Light in the Night

I love going outside at night.  Especially in the winter, when of course the darkness allows us to see the stars and all manner of other celestial bodies, like planets and comets.  And of course the northern lights.  We went out for a last midnight walk last night with the dogs and the aurora were spectacular.  I tried to take some photos, but they were not successful.  (Somehow I can save a life – at times – but can’t seem to master the settings on my camera.)

But a few nights ago we saw something quite strange.  Beautiful, but eerily mysterious.  We are between 500 and 800 meters away from the lights of town, and ordinarily the twinkling of these lights at night is quite lovely.  And comforting.  But what we saw the other night was straight out of a scene from an alien invasion movie.  We didn’t actually see any space ships, but if there are missing people in Yellowknife this weekend, I know why.

When we first went outside, all of the city lights to the west of us were sending beams of light straight up into the sky for some hundreds of meters.  Each light is a slightly different color, so it was strange and wondrous.  As we watched, this effect diminished in the west but moved over the town to the north.  Was this the aliens searching for more souls, innocents asleep in their beds?


I was able to capture this on my camera, and I put the evidence before you.  Look closely to see if you can see the space craft that I missed.  Although I think the photos are interesting, keep in mind that a camera at night, at least mine, is a poor approximation of reality, and also keep in  mind that these photos are taken from nearly a kilometer away.  (Or 0.6 of a mile if you are Linda!).  Its beautiful and hauntingly strange.



The remote possibility of aliens aside, I’m sure there is a rational meteorological explanation for this.  Some phenomenon of cold and ice crystals that reflects or diffuses the light?  I’ve no idea but I’m hoping some wise and all knowing reader can enlighten me.

I enclose here another few scenes from our outside our window and on the ski trail over the last few weeks.  Its been a cold but gloriously beautiful month.  (I can say that now because the sun is shining and there is fluffy fresh snow everywhere. Without the sun its still beautiful, but not glorious.)


Yesterday’s wind on the lake.


Raven walks on snow





Early morning light – 9 am


Ski buddy


About Tandi

I love my morning coffee, reading, the wilderness, paddling, poetry, my Spanish husband, and being a doctor. I also love writing my blog, and reading yours.
This entry was posted in North of 60, photos and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The Curious Incident of the Light in the Night

  1. grtescp says:

    how strange and magical! You live in such an incredible place. L x

    • Tandi Wilkinson says:

      Yes! You should come for a visit some day! Wouldn’t that be fun – but, be warned, the mountain biking is not great.

      • grtescp says:

        every time I read one of your posts I think I would love to visit, but then I realise I really don’t do well in the cold, so I would need to come in the summer, but your winter posts enchant me, seem even more special… and while I still love biking I just don’t do so much any more as my canine biking companion suddenly got old… now we do much more hiking and some running, but even that is tough 😦

      • Tandi Wilkinson says:

        I think you would find the cold not nearly as difficult as you imagine. I know its hard to believe, but true. Although its shockingly cold, its dry and not as cold as damp climates. And once you know how to dress, which is with loose fitting clothes with lots of airspaces, (like boots that are too big) one is quite warm. The main secret is remembering to keep the flesh completely covered to avoid frostbite! March would be a great time to see this place – still winter but longer days and warmer. Its one of the nicest times of year.

      • grtescp says:

        I know when I lived in Scotland everyone said there was no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment, and it is true…. March sounds like a good time… not this year as I already have trips to Cape Verde (for work) and California (holiday) scheduled… but why not next year!!

  2. shoreacres says:

    Light pillars! Here’s a link with some explanation and a great photo. And here’s another source of information .

    Your photos are terrific – as good as any I’ve seen, except for a couple done by pros with really spiffy equipment and so on. Wonderful job of photographing, and so interesting. On the other hand, your photo of wind on the lake is impressive for some other reasons. Brrrrrr!

  3. grtescp says:

    ps – I love the title of this post 🙂

    • Tandi Wilkinson says:

      I keep coming up with titles that are rip offs from popular culture. Have you read the book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night?” So I can’t claim any credit for originality!

      • grtescp says:

        of course I have, I loved the book, which is why I loved your title… I love twists on popular culture, I have used a couple myself, but I think I may be too old as no one picked up on one hot chocolate reference 😉

      • Tandi Wilkinson says:

        No, its not you. Your readers are too young!

        I have been meaning to tell you that I was shocked to realize only a couple of weeks ago that you have a blog. Somehow I’ve been missing that fact for a long while now. I haven’t explored it yet but I sure am looking forward to it!

        xo Tandi

      • grtescp says:

        well – I didn’t actually tell anyone except a couple of close friends about the blog… it was meant to guide people to my etsy shop when I was trying to sell stuff there, that didn’t happen… now it is mainly to share a few of my craft and home improvement projects… not nearly as exciting as yours!

  4. ann says:

    Wow amazing photos Tandi! Thanks for posting these great stories. Just heading up to Bull Mountain for a ski this cloudy Cariboo day but we’ve had amazing skies this month too…

    • Tandi says:

      I love those great Caribou skies. Hope you had a great ski. I’m jealous of your glide. We don’t have that up here. It’s sometimes like trying to ski on pavement. Not slippery!

  5. Mona Chernoff says:

    BEAUTIFUL..would love to see it in the winter but know I’d NEVER survive the cold… I’m having a hard enough time down here. Thanks for letting us see the wonderful sights you are enjoying.
    Love, Mona

  6. Jim Renick says:

    Tandi, the phenomenon that you saw last night is called ‘pillaring’ or a ‘light pillar’. See
    I’m surprised that you haven’t seem them before now as they can be fairly common in very cold climates when it is calm and you have small ice crystals in the air that cause a reflection of the light – visible in low light situations. These are the little crystals that ‘sparkle’ is the sunlight.
    In this situation with only a couple of light pillarings, I would guess that they are in line with a vapour plum from the smoke stack of a large building.

    Always enjoy your ‘posts’. They are so descriptive. Glad you are enjoying the North!
    Jim & Eileen
    Red Deer

  7. Joan says:

    Wow. So lovely. Thanks Tandi. Made my day. Joan

Leave a Reply to shoreacres Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s