Tag Archives: Sprites

Sprites. Space Lightning…

Just above the clouds, on the other side of the sky is a phenomenon that’s caught the eye science, Sprites.

Sprites are a relatively newly discovered – 1989 – high altitude atmospheric optical emission – flash – they are a large-scale electrical discharge that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, or cumulonimbus, giving rise to a quite varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky.

They are triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground. Sprites only last for Milli-seconds and can be quite dim compared to the lightning flash below the clouds. They look like recoil from lightning.

Sprites are often 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 a fluorescent tube discharges than to lightning discharges.

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