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Timelapse: Sprites, Gravity Waves and Airglow

Look! Fast! Sprite lightning occurs only at high altitudes above thunderstorms, only last for a thousandth of a second and emit light in the red portion of the visible spectrum, so they are really difficult to see. But one of our favorite astrophotographers and timelapse artists, Randy Halverson captured sprites during a recent thunderstorm in South Dakota. But wait, there’s more!

In his timelapse video, above, you’ll also see some faint aurora as well as green airglow being rippled by gravity waves.

See some imagery from the storm, below:

Sprite with Airglow and Gravity Waves over South Dakota. Credit and copyright: Randy Halverson.

Sprite with Airglow and Gravity Waves over South Dakota. Credit and copyright: Randy Halverson.

More sprites with airglow and gravity waves over South Dakota on August 20, 2014. Credit and copyright: Randy Halverson.

More sprites with airglow and gravity waves over South Dakota on August 20, 2014. Credit and copyright: Randy Halverson.

See more images and information about Randy’s fun night of observing these phenomena on his website, dakotalapse.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Pete September 4, 2014, 5:49 PM

    “airglow being rippled by gravity waves.” ??
    REALLY? Does this amount to actual detection of gravity waves?
    I was under a perhaps mistaken impression that such had not yet been accomplished.
    What is the source of these gravity waves?
    How strong are they?
    Are they as strong as h=10^-18?
    How, exactly, do they modulate airglow?
    Please explain.

  • kwestdjonmaarc September 4, 2014, 6:17 PM

    waiit…. gravity waves??

  • Steve Nerlich September 4, 2014, 6:24 PM

    Gravity waves, as in density waves in the atmosphere, not actually ripples in space-time. Hold that Nobel prize.

  • weeasle September 5, 2014, 6:23 AM

    I am under the impression that the scientific community has not yet accepted absolute proof that gravity waves exist… Curious as to the matter-of-fact statement that these are gravity wave patterns in the sprites?

  • weeasle September 5, 2014, 6:24 AM

    Nice article and photos!

  • Ignoramus September 5, 2014, 11:11 AM

    If you can see gravity waves this way, why spend all that money on things like LIGO etc…?

  • Ignoramus September 5, 2014, 11:13 AM

    Why can I not read the other comments?

  • William928 September 5, 2014, 5:18 PM

    I can’t seem to read any of the comments on the articles anymore. My browser was updated to IE 10, not sure if that makes a difference.

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