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What’s causing the phenomenon?

Images of incredible beams of light that appear to burst into space in Ontario, Canada, have gone viral this week, with people comparing them to something out of Star Trek or Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

To be fair, the phenomenon does look pretty alien. But, don’t panic, there’s a scientific explanation here.

The images were captured in North Bay, Ontario, by photographer and YouTuber Timmy Joe Elzinga, who initially freaked out when he spotted them out of his bathroom window in the middle of the night.

Elzinga was woken up on the early morning of January 6 by his son, when he saw this crazy light show going on, which he described as “beams of light flashing in the sky”. The temperature at the time was around –18 degrees Celsius (–0.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

highexposure01Timmy Joe Elzinga

“I was freaking out, my wife came and took a look at it but I had to investigate further,” Elzinga told ScienceAlert.

“I opened the bathroom window and even took the screen out so I could get those images. It was really cold. I thought they were the Northern Lights at first but I quickly realised this was something a lot more localised to my area,” he added.

“The beams seemed to be coming from the ground in a lot of spots.”

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