Those Aren’t UFOs, They’re Light Pillars Over Pinedale And They Won’t Kill Us

Wyoming photographer David Bell captured dozens of "light pillars" on Wednesday evening. The cold temperatures and high humidity produced near-perfect conditions for the phenomena, he said.

February 23, 20233 min read

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Although there has been plenty of UFO discussion lately, what Wyoming photographer David Bell captured on Wednesday night will not likely cause panic nor were fighter jets sent out to shoot them down.

Bell, instead, took photos of “light pillars” which are optical atmospheric phenomena that appear to shoot-up beams of light from the ground to the sky.

Bell’s photo show red, blue, yellow, and faint green streaks of light hundreds of feet above the ground over his hometown of Pinedale.

As Bell is known to do, he takes his coolest photos and shares them on his enormously popular Facebook page.

He said it was a perfect night for the phenomena to occur because of the cold air and humidity.

“The temperature was rapidly dropping and the remaining moisture in the air was freezing and falling as light snow or becoming hexagonal platelets, which is what creates the light pillars.” Bell explained.

Scientists say the ideal temperatures for this to happen is between 14 degrees to -40 degrees.

Pinedale was in that ballpark as the low temperature was -4.

A steady glow in the atmosphere was present as well. That happens when artificial lights reflect off a new presence of snow. That’s called “snowglow.”

Bell said he took his photo at 9pm with a Panasonic Lumix S5 camera and a Zeiss Distagon ZE lens.

The Best

Although Bell’s photo is great, it’s not his best, he said.

His “all-time great” photo of light pillars was taken on January 16, 2017. He recalls the conditions were the same, but the pillars were much brighter.

The photo was so good it was picked up by The Weather Channel and NBC, he said.

“My 15 minutes of fame,” Bell said.

Pinedale Light Pillars. January 2017. Courtesy, David Bell.

Bell shared another one of his favorites called “Full Moon and Pillars.” This photo was also taken in January but a year later in 2018.

Bell said these photos will be featured in his new book coming out in the summer of 2023.

Bell said the book which will feature 200 full-page images of Sublette County is called “’23’ The Place We Call Home.”

23, of course, is the number assigned to Sublette County on license plates.

Full Moon and Pillars over downtown Pinedale. Courtesy, David Bell.


By the way, light pillars look innocent enough but they are frequently mistaken as UFOs — especially around where Josh Allen lives.

Back in 2009, the presence of light pillars were so intense near Niagara Falls, that county officials were besieged with phone calls from citizens certain they were being invaded.

“We stood there looking at if for 20 minutes. It looked like a piece of metal, and my husband thinks it was a spaceship,” Angela Jordan told a Canadian newspaper.

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