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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thunderstorm "sprites," from space

The very largest and most active thunderstorms sometimes produce "sprites;" elusive, fleeting, very hard-to-see electrical discharges at the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere.

They're so hard to see, they're weren't truly discovered until 1989.

Earlier reports were discounted because sprites don't look at all like regular lightning: they often look something like pink jellyfish!

There are only a few places where they can be seen from the ground --- places like the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains, looking out over the huge storms that form over the plains. And even then, conditions have to be just right.

But the International Space Station has a different perspective, and can see them in a way never before witnessed:

ISS Sprite Story:  http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=86463&src=eoa-iotd

Sprites: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprite_(lightning)

PBS story: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/edge-of-space.html

More info, images: http://tinyurl.com/nel5dhk