Spritely Sunday

TEXAS-SIZED SPRITES: Technically, summer hasn’t started yet in the USA, but summer thunderstorms are already rumbling across the Great Plains, bringing with them strange forms of upper atmospheric lightning. “Sprite season is definitely picking up here in Texas,” reports Kevin Palivec, who operates an array of night-sky cameras in the town of Hawley. This week he has photographed a flurry of lightning-like forms including this Gigantic Jet shooting up from a thunderstorm in Oklahoma:

Click to view the full-length video

“The line of storms in Oklahoma was perfectly positioned for me to record these jets leaping over the cloudtops about 300 miles away,” says Palivec. “I used a Watec 902h Ultimate black and white camera in a pan tilt weatherproof housing on a 20 foot tower.”

Gigantic jets are like sprites on steroids. They are rare and far more powerful than their smaller red cousins. “I’ve been monitoring the skies here in Texas for 6 years. To date, I’ve only caught 5 gigantic jets–two of which have been studied in research papers. It is always exciting to see them.”

One night later, on May 15th, “another line of storms moved through producing sprites to my north and south!” says Palivec.

Some researchers think that sprites and gigantic jets may be linked to cosmic rays: Subatomic particles from deep space strike the top of Earth’s atmosphere, producing secondary electrons that trigger the upward bolts. If this is true, then sprites could multiply in the years ahead as cosmic rays intensify due to the decline of the solar cycle.

Although sprites have been seen for at least a century, most scientists did not believe they existed until after 1989 when sprites were photographed by cameras onboard the space shuttle. Now “sprite chasers” like Palivec routinely photograph sprites from their own homes. Give it a try!


About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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15 Responses to Spritely Sunday

  1. Micki says:

    Rained this a.m. — the robins love it! So, do I! But, now it’s sunny! And, I love that too!

    My irises are bloomin’ beautiful!


    • Den says:

      Iris’s are amazing! Lilacs smell heavenly!


      • °¿º Carol says:

        You could get gassed here at the ranch by the lilacs. They are in full bloom. When I walk out the back door, they are strong. The whole back yard is redolent. After awhile, I start to think of gasoline and skunk. A whiff of either of those is good, but if it keeps up, it gets overpowering. I must be getting old if the lilacs are almost overpowering.

        Always, since I was a kid, my favorite flower and smell. Overpowering, or not, I still love them.


  2. Den says:

    Boogie Woogie:


  3. David B. Benson says:

    Overcast and but one bold magpie on the way to the Old Post Office in 26 minutes. But earlier I heard robins and crows. Would just as soon that the crows moved on.


  4. Den says:

    Poor fluffy, slight error in judgement:


  5. David B. Benson says:

    To my surprise, James Clapper wrote a good op-ed in today’s TNYT.


  6. °¿º Carol says:

    Drizzly and cool all day. Chilly enough in the house tonight, hope I can survive the morning w/o turning the heat on. Damn, May 21…which is summer no madder what the calendar says, it’s sure been cool. Jill turned the A/C on when she came over last Sunday. Downhill after that.


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