Red sprites over Atacama (photo)

The presented image was taken at the La Silla Observatory located on the territory of the Chilean Atacama Desert. On it you can see the characteristic bright red spots, known as red sprites.

Red sprites and the atmosphere’s own glow in the sky over the Atacama Desert. Source: Zdenek Bardon/ESO

Red sprites are a specific elusive form of atmospheric electrical discharges that occur at altitudes of 50 to 90 kilometers. This is significantly higher than normal thunderclouds. Red sprites differ from ordinary lightning not only in their height, but also in that they are much colder, and their glow is much weaker. It is very difficult to register such a phenomenon. The first photographic evidence of the existence of red sprites was obtained only in 1989.

The background in the photo seems to be slightly tinted with green paint. This phenomenon is called the night sky’s own glow. In the daytime, sunlight ionizes nitrogen and oxygen atoms in the earth’s atmosphere, tearing electrons from them, and at night these electrons recombine with atoms and molecules again, giving birth to photons. Such a glow can usually be seen only in a very dark sky in places completely free from light pollution. The Atacama Desert is just one of such corners of the globe.

Earlier we wrote about how a rare lenticular cloud was photographed above the Gemini North telescope.

According to

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time