Sun pillars, or light pillars, are vertical columns of light caused by light reflection from ice crystals drifting in Earth’s atmosphere. When seen they are commonly mistaken as a UFO.
Sun pillars are most easily seen just before sunset and just after sunrise when thin high level clouds are present. High level clouds contain millions of falling ice crystals that are horizontally shaped. When the light reflects off the surface of the ice crystals a vertical shaft of light is formed.
They can sometimes look a little out of place when you first see one. There are quite a few UFO reports caused by light pillars over Niagara Falls during winter. This is most likely due to the mist from the falls interacting with the city’s many upward facing spotlights.