I live on the outskirts of Akron, Ohio. Tonight, Jan 28, 11 p.m., took my dog out. As I look on the horizon of this busy city (population of the metro area is 750,000), and look towards the city, vertical shafts of light are rising in the southerly sky. The night is clear, full moon above, few clouds on this horizon but some. I often look to the sky and I have never seen anything like this. I am a 53 year old architect, I have never seen the northern lights here, and when I look away from the city I do not see the lights.
I went to the internet to search for an explanation of this phenomenon, but found none. I found your site and thought I would report this unusual occurrence.
There are approximately 20 shafts of light stretching out over 135 degrees of the southern horizon, some more defined than others. Some/most start near the ground but many go 45 degrees up in the sky. The full moon is directly above.
Any clues to what is causing this effect would be appreciated.
According to www.wkyc.com, that same night, television meteorologists received calls from other residents in Akron wondering about what appeared to be "beams of light shooting upward from a line of spotlights".
In our reply to Mr. ZUMPANO we pointed out that the description of "vertical shafts of light", "starting near the ground", "some more defined than others" is typical of a display of Artificial Light Pillars, i.e. pillar-shaped reflections from bright, ground-based light sources in clouds of ice-crystals.
In medium climates, these pillars usually appear only in high-altitude clouds, but the very cold temperatures that prevailed in Akron on January 28 (- 12.7°C or 9.1°F at 11:00 p.m.) created the proper conditions for water droplets closer to the ground to turn into billions of tiny, highly reflective ice-crystal plates.
We invited Mr. ZUMPANO to take a look at our gallery with pictures of "light pillars in low clouds" (a sub category of our picture gallery on artificial light pillars). On February 3, Mr. ZUMPANO kindly sent us the following reply: "There is no doubt: what I saw is the phenomenon photographed in OP-PL-08. It was a once in my lifetime occurrence and I thank you for explaining it". We, in turn, thank Mr. ZUMPANO for contacting us.