Above: Dancing Sprites over eastern Colorado, May 21, 2014, at 9:01:12 pm Mountain Time.

Specimens : Transient Luminous Events in the Mesosphere

Near Infrared Photographs and Video Captures with VLF-ELF Radio Emissions

Sprites are brief large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds giving rise to a varied range of visual shapes flashing in the sky. They are generally triggered by positive cloud to ground lightning strokes. Sprites appear as luminous reddish-orange flashes. They often occur in clusters within the altitude range 50 to 90 km above the Earth's surface. They were only first photographed in 1989 and verified by space shuttle images in 1991.

Following are specimens of various types of sprites that I captured from my observatory in New Mexico. This collection is in process. More to follow.

Thomas Ashcraft : Heliotown : New Mexico : Mail


Jellyfish Sprites

June 23, 2014: Triple Sprites

June 16, 2013 : Impressive sprite over western Kansas

April 12, 2012 : Sprite Cluster with Tendrils

March 30, 2012 : Formidable Sprites Over Oklahoma

May 01 2013 : Jellyfish Sprite visible through neighborhood lights


Carrot Sprites

Aug 06, 2012 : Sprite Over Taos, New Mexico

June 13, 2012 : "Carrot" Sprites

May 01, 2013 : West Texas Carrot sprite cluster

May 26, 2013 : Carrot sprites visible in strong moonlight

April 14, 2012 : Carrot sprite 700 km distant on the horizon


Columniform Sprites, C-Sprites

May 07, 2012 : Beautiful Sprites Captured at Closer Range ( scroll down page )

Aug 16, 2012 : Single C-sprite

April 10, 2012 : C-sprites near Lubbock, Texas

April 12, 2012 : C-sprites over Oklahoma panhandle


ELVES : ELVES often appear as a dim, flattened, expanding glow around 400 km (250 mi) in diameter that lasts for, typically, just one millisecond. They occur in the ionosphere 100 km (62 mi) above the ground over thunderstorms. Their color was a puzzle for some time, but is now believed to be a red hue. ELVES were first recorded on another shuttle mission, this time recorded off French Guiana on October 7, 1990. ELVES is a whimsical acronym for Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources. This refers to the process by which the light is generated; the excitation of nitrogen molecules due to electron collisions (the electrons possibly having been energized by the electromagnetic pulse caused by a discharge from an underlying thunderstorm). ( Wikipedia)

May 31, 2012 : Gigantic Elve and Sprite Cluster Generated by 406 kAmp Mega-Lightning Stroke

June 19, 2013 : Donut ELVE ( mutual capture images )


Various Interesting Sprite Events

May 20, 2012 : Sprite -Meteor Coincidence and Possible Interaction

April 10, 2012 : Halo first above, then sprites


Rare Negative -CG sprite captures

June 2014 : Six rare captures with video and radio emissions


Two separate sprite events, close in time, with similar morphologies

June 06, 2013 : 03:02:18 UT

June 06, 2013 : 03:05:24 UT


Mesospheric Gravity Waves and Sprites

June 06, 2012 : Time-lapse from 0500 UT to 0530 UT over Texas

Collection 2012 : Various time-lapses


Blue Starter, Gnome

May 25, 2013 : Rare capture


Blue Jets, Gigantic Jets : No captures as yet! Camera is at the ready for these rarely caught events over land.


Thomas Ashcraft : Heliotown : New Mexico : Mail : More Various Observations