Lightning Sprite Season -- Early This Year

By: Susie77 , 10:22 PM GMT on April 01, 2012

Share this Blog
2
+

From Space Weather


SPRITE SEASON BEGINS: The first sprites of summer are starting to appear in the skies of North America. The strange thing is, summer is almost three months away. "Sprite season is beginning early this year," says Thomas Ashcraft, who photographed these specimens on March 30th from his observatory in New Mexico:



"At precisely two minutes and twenty-six seconds after midnight March 30, 2012 there was an incredibly powerful bolt of lightning in the vicinity of Woodward, Oklahoma that spawned these red sprites," says Ashcraft. "I could see them from two states away!" He also recorded VLF and shortwave radio emissions from the cluster, which you can hear as the soundtrack to this video.

Sprites are electrical discharges that come out of the top of thunderclouds, opposite ordinary lightning bolts which plunge toward Earth. Sprites can tower as high as 90 km above ground. That makes them a form of space weather as they overlap the zone of auroras, meteors, and noctilucent clouds.

Because they are associated with lightning, sprites are most often seen in summer months, "but in the past few days sprites have been reported in Texas (particularly near the Mexican border) as well as here in New Mexico," notes Ashcraft.

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 2 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

2. Susie77
2:03 AM GMT on April 02, 2012
Hi Linda! Sprites are more typically seen from space or high-altitude aircraft since they live at the very tops of very high thunderstorms.

"Sprites are sometimes inaccurately called upper-atmospheric lightning. However, sprites are cold plasma phenomena that lack the hot channel temperatures of tropospheric lightning, so they are more akin to fluorescent tube discharges than to lightning discharges."
From: Wikipedia

Aren't they cool?
Member Since: April 14, 2002 Posts: 611 Comments: 544
1. shoreacres
1:17 AM GMT on April 02, 2012
I'm not sure I've ever heard of these. I know I've never seen them. Or maybe I have and just thought "lightning". Now that I know they exist, they'll be fun to learn about. Sure are pretty!
Member Since: October 4, 2004 Posts: 205 Comments: 15288

Viewing: 2 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

Top of Page

About Susie77

Sometimes I complain about the earthly weather, but mostly I like to post about astronomy and space events. Hope you enjoy the articles.

Local Weather

Scattered Clouds
81 °F
Scattered Clouds