The first color image of sprite lightning
The first color image of sprite lightning

Rare Sprite Lightning Caught on Film

Photographer captures pictures from plane

The first color image of sprite lightning
Adam Roy

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A photographer in Colorado has captured rare images of sprite lightning, hard-to-observe electrical bursts that occur high in the atmosphere, on a flight above Boulder. Jason Ahrns was flying on a special plane from NOAA when he used a dSLR and a window-mounted Gorilla Pod to catch pictures of the sprites, red-colored, split-second electrical bursts that occur at altitudes of about 40 to 45 miles.

While sprites aren’t well-understood (the first photograph of one was captured in 1989) researchers believe that they’re caused by a positively-charged lightning strike which reaches the ground, causing the top of the cloud it originated from to take on a negative charge.

To see Ahrns’s sprite pictures, visit his website, or check out video of the sprites, taken at 10,000 frames-per-second, at Universe Today.

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