Red Jellyfish Sprite Over Mediterranean Sea

February 09, 2022


Photographer: Arnaud Besançon

Summary Authors: Arnaud Besançon; Cadan Cummings

This breathtaking photo taken on the night of November 24, 2021, captures red “jellyfish” sprites as seen from the Grand Ballon mountain (4500 ft / 1400 m) in Eastern France.  Grand Ballon translates “great round-topped mountain” and it is the tallest elevation in the Vosges. Sprites are electrical discharges that appear high in the atmosphere and are prompted by severe thunderstorm activity. The storm cells from which these sprites originated were located to our south over the Mediterranean Sea. With the help of Serge Soula from the Aerology Laboratory (National Center for Scientific Research and Paul Sabatier University), both the distance and power of these sprites were able to be accurately determined. The event was generated by four parent arcs that were respectively 352, 363, 384, and 381 miles (567, 585, 618 and 614 km) away. Their power was also determined to vary with each emitting 61, 153, 62 and 44 kiloamperes. This specific storm cell was very intense, which likely explains why I had previously never captured so many sprites in one night!


View Larger Map