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La Silla Observatory in Chile captures rare red sprites over the Atacama Desert

La Silla Observatory in Chile captures rare red sprites over the Atacama Desert

(ORDO NEWS) — Taken in Chile’s Atacama Desert by the La Silla Observatory, bright red streaks in the sky, known as red sprites, can be seen in this photo.

Red sprites are powerful electrical discharges that occur high above thunderclouds. They appear in the Earth‘s atmosphere at an altitude of 50-90 km.

People have been telling stories for centuries about mysterious red lights in the sky that were generally dismissed by experts.

Even when respectable pilots or scientists (including C.T.R. Wilson, Nobel laureate in physics) described them, the scientific community ignored these phenomena.

However, in 1989, scientists at the University of Minnesota photographed red sprites, and attitudes have changed since then.

Although red sprites are now regularly photographed and filmed, including by astronauts on the International Space Station, they are still quite rare.

This new photo almost looks like a painting. Red sprites appear low on the horizon. The background of the photo has a green tint due to airglow.

As explained by the European Southern Observatory, it occurs because during the day sunlight knocks electrons from nitrogen and oxygen into the Earth’s atmosphere, and at night these electrons recombine with atoms and molecules, causing them to glow. Usually, airglow can only be seen in very dark skies where there is no light pollution.


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