Fire in the sky: Rare, 'red lightning' photographed in Nebraska, Oklahoma
Tuesday, August 13, 2013, 7:28 -
Scientist Jason Ahrns was able to capture a sprite, or 'red lightning' with his camera recently.
Sprites are strands of light that shoot out from the top of storm clouds and into space when thunderstorms emit lightning.
While the phenomenon isn't anything out of the ordinary, sprites are rarely seen by humans, explains Jaclyn Whittal, an on-air meteorologist at The Weather Network.
"Sprites happen quickly," she says, "so scientists and photographers must use a fast camera and shutter speed to capture them. This type of lightning travels into the thermosphere, so people can't usually see it because storm clouds tend to block them."
A sprite usually lasts for a few milliseconds. During that time, it can be projected up to 100 km into space.