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Ralf Rohner's gallery/Nightscapes/Tranquility under Busy Skies – July_2018
Tranquility under Busy Skies – July_2018
Tranquility under Busy Skies – July_2018

A very tranquil campsite under the starry skies of the Swiss Alps, but make no mistake: there is quite some action in the sky.

While Milky Way is moving majestetically through the night and the planets Saturn and Mars seemingly follow it, a high atmosperic phenomenon called red sprite, is making a fleeting appearance.

Sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds,giving rise to a quite varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky. They are usually triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground.

Sprites appear as luminous reddish flashes. They often occur in clusters above the troposphere at an altitude range of 50–90 km (31–56 mi). Sporadic visual reports of sprites go back at least to 1886, but they were first photographed on July 6, 1989 by scientists from the University of Minnesota.

Sprites are sometimes inaccurately called upper-atmospheric lightning. However, sprites are cold plasma phenomena that lack the hot channel temperatures of tropospheric lightning, so they are more akin to fluorescent tube discharges than to lightning discharges.

Canon EOS 6D, astro modified
Samyang 24mm f/1,4
iOptron Skytracker Pro
Low Level Lighting

Panorama with 4 stacked panels:
2 x 6 exposures of 30s @ ISO 1600, tracked
6 x 30s @ ISO 1600
6 x 30s @ ISO 1600, tracked

About me

Ralf Rohner

Airline pilot and avid astrophotographer

Recent posts

Airborne Astrophotography