Red Sprites and Airglow

January 22, 2020


Photographer: Zdenek Bardon
Summary Author: Zdenek Bardon 

Shown above is an image of red sprites taken from the ESO observatory at La Silla, Chile. A huge thunderstorm complex to the east, in Argentina, offered an opportunity to capture these seldom observed sprites. This wasn’t a simple endeavor as the storm was roughly 250 miles (400 km) distant, and the flashes could barely be detected by the naked eye. Red sprites are transient luminescent events (TLEs) in the upper atmosphere that sometimes occur as a result of lightning generated by active thunderstorms.

On this image, in addition to the red sprites, it’s possible to see reddish-green airglow (above the red sprites) and a meteor (left center) streaking over the Atacama landscape. Image acquired on November 25, 2019.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D810A; Software: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic 9.1 (Macintosh); Exposure Time: 15.000s; Aperture: ƒ/1.4; ISO equivalent: 6400; Focal Length (35mm): 28; Lens: Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 ZF.2. Image made by stacking eight separate images.