Sprites Rouges 

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An extraordinary image captured by a very sensitive camera late last month on a summit of the Vosges mountains in France.

Fireworks? Of a sort, yes. To wit:

Generated over intense thunderstorms, this one about 260 kilometers away, the brief and mysterious flashes have come to be known as red sprites. The transient luminous events are caused by electrical breakdown at altitudes of 50 to 100 kilometers. That puts them in the mesophere, the coldest layer of planet Earth’s atmosphere. The glow beneath the sprites is from more familiar lighting though, below the storm clouds. But on the right, the video frames have captured another summertime apparition from the mesophere. The silvery veins of light are polar mesospheric clouds. Also known as noctilucent or night shining clouds, the icy clouds still reflect the sunlight when the Sun is below the horizon.

(Image: Stephane Vetter (TWAN, Nuits sacrees))

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2 thoughts on “Sprites Rouges 

  1. Slightly Bemused

    I remember reading a report from a pilot from the 50s or early 60s, in the times when jet travel finally allowed flights above the clouds. The pilot reported seeing what are now known as sprites, but his airline thought he was seeing things, and even suggested he was drunk.
    I think they were only first photographed in the late 80s.

    Incredible things, and I wonder if they were the inspiration for several different types of alien monsters, especially those with tentacles reaching from the sky.

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