Space Lightning

16 Aug 2016

At www.spaceweather.com (August 16th) (see menu on LH side of web page) ...      space lightning over China, August 13th, photographed by Phebe Pan. He was hoping to get a shot of a Perseid meteor - but got this instead, a spectacular bolt of lightning in space. It was ejected from the top of a thunder cloud, from a position on top of a mountain. Phebe Pan said  it looked lie a tree with branches and grew up very fast. Trees with branches are a familiar feature in myth. Like their cousins the sprites, as well as meteors and noctolucent clouds, these phenomena are on the edge of space, shooting up from thunder clouds to the ionosphere. Some researchers think that cosmic rays (read the solar wind) help trigger these space lightning bolts (and sprites) but this iidea is still controversial.