Tag Archives: lightning

Saturday night.

Not really. What appears to be an electrical discharge from the Milky Way is actually a distant storm photographed from the  Italian island of Sardinia last June. To wit:

The foreground rocks and shrubs are near the famous Capo Spartivento Lighthouse, and the camera is pointed south toward Algeria in Africa. In the distance, across the Mediterranean Sea, a thunderstorm is threatening, with several electric lightning strokes caught together during this 25-second wide-angle exposure. Much farther in the distance, strewn about the sky, are hundreds of stars in the neighbourhood of our Sun in the Milky Way Galaxy. Farthest away, and slanting down from the upper left, are billions of stars that together compose the central band of our Milky Way.

(Image: Ivan Pedretti)


A spectacular two-image composite of lightning striking communication antennas near the top of Volcán de Agua (Volcano of Water) in Guatemala earlier this month.

Details of what causes lightning are still being researched, but it is known that inside some clouds, internal updrafts cause collisions between ice and snow that slowlyseparate charges between cloud tops and bottoms The rapid electrical discharges that are lightning soon result. Lightning usually takes a jagged course, rapidly heating a thin column of air to about three times the surface temperature of the Sun. The resulting shock wave starts supersonically and decays into the loud sound known as thunder. On average, around the world, about 6,000 lightning bolts occur between clouds and the Earth every minute.

(ImageSergio Montúfar (Pinceladas Nocturnas)


A rare form of lightning called ‘red sprites’ (only confirmed 30 years ago) observed earlier this month at Kununurra in Western Australia. To wit:

100-meter balls of ionized air shoot down from about 80-km high at 10 percent the speed of light and are quickly followed by a group of upward streaking ionized balls. Red sprites take only a fraction of a second to occur and are best seen when powerful thunderstorms are visible from the side.

(Pic: Ben Broady)