February rainbow appears over city

Nature gives Minskers a fantastic show of colour: huge light pillars over the night skyline followed by a full rainbow

By Inna Kabysheva

According to witnesses, bright pillars of light were seen over major buildings and constructions, each with their own illumination — for instance, near the National Library and Pobedy Square. The phenomenon might be compared with the Northern Lights or a laser show but was, in fact, the result of ice crystals in the air. It was easy to imagine that Minsk was being used as the set for a blockbuster film about aliens landing!

The February rainbow and foggy pillars over the city were impressive although their cause was nothing out of the ordinary, with frost and humidity creating the small crystals of ice. These accumulated in the air, dissipating light, and resulted in the illumination of buildings. Yevgeny Tolkachev, chief research officer at the National Academy of Sciences’ Physics Institute, explains that this rare optical phenomenon in the atmosphere is caused by the refraction and reflection of light in water drops. Similar conditions can also create halos: circular bands of coloured light around the Sun.

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