Friday, June 11, 2010

(Middle) Earth

Elves and Sprites really exist!

Pilots have long reported interesting energy phenomona high up in the atmosphere. Called elves and sprites, these are lightning-related events officially dubbed with the relatively boring name transient luminous events. They occur in the vicinity of thunderstorms and often occur well above the storm. These have proven difficult to photograph in part because they never last very long and in part because of inaccessability. There have been photos of them in the past, of course, but nothing like in a study conducted in Europe.

They used high-speed cameras to capture the genesis and formation of the phenomona. The hope is that study of the imagery will yield a better understanding of what causes the features and a better understanding of the electrical give-and-take present in the atmosphere, particalarly in thunderstorms.

Eat your heart out, Legolas!

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