On frozen nights in cold places, ice crystals suspended in midair combine with any light source (the sun low on the horizon, the moon, or man-made lights on the ground) to create beautiful pillars of light that extend vertically above and below the source.

Star Trek fans who have never seen this effect in person might think Captain Kirk and his ilk are being beamed back up to the Enterprise, but in reality it’s just Mother Nature expressing herself in yet another beautiful way.

If you don’t live somewhere cold enough for this phenomenon, or you simply have never been fortunate enough to see it happen with your own eyes, here are 15 photos captured by 500px photographers who were ready to capture the pillars when the time came:

Wanna see something else awesome? Check out this waterfall in Yosemite that glows like it’s on fire at sunset one month each year, or browse through photos of arguably the most beautiful river on the planet.