Sprites from Space

Astronauts have actually photographed a few of this, but this was yesterday’s APOD and it’s too pretty not to share again.  It’s a longish exposure, which is why the city lights are smeared.  The bright object is of course not the Sun, but rather the Moon.  Orion is also visible.  The airglow layer at the top of the atmosphere is clearly visible here, as is a brilliant flash of lightning in a thunderstorm to the right of the image, and that’s actually the interesting feature here, because it’s lightnings that create sprites.  The sprites look like a sort of hot pink jellyfish floating above the thunderstorm.  They’re a faint, transient, and challenging-to-capture counterpart of the lightning we’re all familiar with.  I’m not sure which city lights are in the image; the caption at APOD only indicates that it’s somewhere in Mexico.



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