Red Sprite (Roter Kobold)

..over Italia / Trentino 2016 

Photographed on 06-June-2016 from Germerswang, Fuerstenfeldbruck



Heavy thunderstorms were discovered on the weather map of Sat24 over the 200-250km distanced South situated region of  Trentino/Bolzano. In Fuerstenfeldbruck a clear sky made the situation perfect. Ok up to the hill again and the same procedure as last week. And great!!! A seldom triple angel Red Sprites was photographed.

Red Sprite 2016 by Boeckel    Red Sprite 2016 by Boeckel

Cutouts shows more details of the angel Sprite.

Movie 116 MB

Red Sprite 2016 by Boeckel   Red Sprite 2016 by Boeckel

Left: The same event in the original image size. Right in a cutout.

After checking out 1700 photos, surprisingly three times the sprites were photographed at 23:02 UTC (01:02 MESZ)

Canon5D MIII, Sigma 35mm, f2.8, ASA 3200, Exp. 2,sec

 The thunder storm cell,

In courtesy of Sat24

But how does the rare luminous phenomena come to this name, when they were discovered and what is the reason of origin?

The appearance of a Red Sprites takes around 2/100 seconds, can be bright and possible to be seen with the naked eye. However, the brightness is several times under a lightning discharge. 'Red Sprites' can appear on an average altitude of 60-80 km in the mesosphere. Also sightings to a height of 90 km to the edge of the ionosphere are possible. The height of the sprite can vary from 10 km to 20 km. The width of the discharge can reach up from 40 to 60 km.

Until 1989, the existence of Red Sprites was generally denied because only jet pilots announced sporadic sightings. Here they reaped rather grumpy and sarcastic reactions :-(. Thus, many sightings have been omitted. 1989 the first Red Sprite photos did succeed, but due to the not yet advanced camera technology the results were scientifically useless.

1991 the astronauts of the former Space shuttle mission succeeded to capture this phenomenon specifically the first time from space. These photos served also as the first meaningful evidence. Afterwards high-tech peppered research aircrafts were inserted by very costly experiments from the NASA and NOAA, which should explain and analyze these phenomena further. After this efforts yielded no results for months, and the researchers literally get messed around with this situation, they called these discharges almost mischievously 'Sprite' in the sence of a whorled goblin. The first colored photo was taken 1994 by the 'University of Alaska', whereby a high efficent camara was fixed under a weather balloon.

Incidentally, we don’t have a plausible explanation of the origin of Red Sprites until today, but there are countless theories. Look out for the scientific article in the Washington post. The most common version declares that during heavy thunderstorms larger areas of electrical tension build itself up over the super cells, which consequently discharge due to the oversaturation upwards by itself. The actual luminous phenomenon gets produced in the mesosphere by collision of electrons with the always present cosmic gamma radiation.

More Red Sprites at

  (Sprite link)

More Red Sprite sightings


Red Sprites 2107 by Th Boeckel06.June-2019      Red Sprites 2107 by Th Boeckel09.May-2018    Juli-Aug-2017    June-2017    15-June-2017     11-July-2016

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 ©2016 photos& text by Thorsten Boeckel (tb)

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