Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2023 September 18
Explanation: The sprite and tree could hardly be more different. To start, the red sprite is an unusual form of lightning, while the tree is a common plant. The sprite is far away -- high in Earth's atmosphere, while the tree is nearby -- only about a football field away. The sprite is fast -- electrons streaming up and down at near light's speed, while the tree is slow -- wood anchored to the ground. The sprite is bright -- lighting up the sky, while the tree is dim -- shining mostly by reflected light. The sprite was fleeting -- lasting only a small fraction of a second, while the tree is durable -- living now for many years. Both however, when captured together, appear oddly similar in this featured composite image captured early this month in France as a thunderstorm passed over mountains of the Atlantic Pyrenees.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC,
NASA Science Activation
& Michigan Tech. U.