Eerie, ultra-detailed photo of a lightning ‘sprite’ exposes one of nature’s least understood phenomena

Streaks of red lightning in the night sky


The upward-shooting red lightning, known as a sprite, appeared during a thunderstorm in Slovakia on Aug. 14. (Image credit: Stanislav Kaniansky)

An astronomer recently captured one of the most detailed-ever shots of a rare type of upward-shooting red lightning, known as a sprite, which briefly hovered in the air like a gigantic jellyfish during a thunderstorm over central Europe. 

Stanislav Kaniansky, an astronomer at the Banská Bystrica Observatory in Slovakia, snapped the sprite near his home in Látky, Slovakia, on Aug. 14, reported. The luminous, zig-zagging structure measured more than 31 miles (50 kilometers) across and lasted for just a few fractions of a second before disappearing.