An aurora above a teeny-tiny ice planet
Saturday, February 1, 2014, 1:23 PM -
This looks like The Little Prince's winter getaway, a tiny snow planet with pillars of light looking like a blazing aurora.
What you're looking at is a sperical panorama of a view from the Finnish town of Siilinjarvi.
It's just a photography trick of course, a kind of forced perspective method called "little planet projection" whose explanation is a bit on the complicated side.
It's amazing how your average winter scene can change when you view it like this.
You can see flat ice crystals in the cold air near the surface, and ttat aurora effect is upward-directed streetlight being reflected downward by the crystals.
NASA made this their Astronomy Picture of the Day on Friday. It was shot by Finnish photographer Janne Voutilainen in 2010.