Category Archives: Nature

Behold: one of the most spectacular shots yet of red sprite lightning. To wit:

Recent research has shown that following a powerful positive cloud-to-ground lightning strike, red sprites may start as 100-meter balls of ionised air that shoot down from about 80-km high at 10 percent the speed of light. They are quickly followed by a group of upward streaking ionised balls. The featured image was taken earlier this year from Las Campanas observatory in Chile over the Andes Mountains in Argentina. Red sprites take only a fraction of a second to occur and are best seen when powerful thunderstorms are visible from the side.

Let’s look a little closer, shall we?

Previously: No Sprite Is Safe

(Image: Yuri Beletsky (Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory, TWAN)


Behold: a spectacular and unusual multicoloured, banded aurora. To wit:

In mid-March of 2015, an energetic Coronal Mass Ejection directed toward a clear magnetic channel to Earth led to one of the more intense geomagnetic storms of recent years. A visual result was wide spread auroras being seen over many countries near Earth’s magnetic poles. Captured over Kiruna, Sweden, the image features an unusually straight auroral curtain with the green colour emitted low in the Earth’s atmosphere, and red many kilometres higher up. It is unclear where the rare purple aurora originates, but it might involve an unusual blue aurora at an even lower altitude than the green, seen superposed with a much higher red. Now past Solar Minimum, colourful nights of auroras over Earth are likely to increase.

(Image: Mia Stålnacke)


Who doesn’t have six minutes to watch a single cell grow into an Alpine newt salamander? Not you.

Also – more controversially* – when exactly does a collection of cells become an Alpine newt salamander?

(*rolls grenade into cave entrance, backs away, returns later, retrieves dud grenade, walks out of shot, pause, distant explosion.)

MORE: Looking Closely Is Everything (Craig Mod)