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RED SPRITES, BLUE JETS, ELVES, ETC.
MAIN • PHILOSOPHER • RED SPRITES, BLUE JETS, ELVES, ETC.
Another Fake UFO Picture?
Nope! What you see there, folks, is a photo of the occurrence known as a "Red Sprite."
These puppies have been going on forever above high-intensity lightning storms, above the clouds, but because of their very nature: altitude, speed, infrequency, only within the past few years have scientists been able to discover and study them.
SPRITES are high-altitude luminous flashes that take place above thunderstorms in a part of the atmosphere called the mesosphere. Although sprites are usually rare, some storms can spawn them frequently. Typically the upper parts of clouds are charged positively and the lower parts negatively. Most
often, it is the negative base of the cloud that flashes to the ground. But at times the upper, positive part can discharge directly to the earth, producing a lightning flash of exceptional intensity. About one out of 20 such positive cloud-to-ground lightning bolts are sufficiently energetic that they spawn sprites.
Most recently, sprites have been observed over winter thunderstorms in Japan.
The most recent University of Alaska Sprite observation Campaign was EXL98 in the High Plains of the United States. During the 1998 northern hemisphere summer, Stanford University has some incredible
images showing high spatial resolution from a Dobsonian telescope.
BLUE JETS are a second high altitude optical phenomenon, distinct from sprites, observed above thunderstorms using low light television systems.
As their name implies, blue jets are optical ejections
from the top of the electrically active core regions of
thunderstorms. Following their emergence from the top of the thundercloud, they typically propagate upward in narrow cones of about 15 degrees full width at vertical speeds of roughly 100 km/s (Mach 300), fanning out and disappearing at heights of about 40-50 km. Blue jets are not aligned with the local magnetic field.
And...ELVES are "Emmissions of Light and VLF from EMP Sources."
Read up on these awesome events that help to make our little home in the galaxy a bit more fun: