Red sprites in the sky over Cyprus

This rare atmospheric phenomenon was recorded on the island for the first time. Photographer Yorgos Paraskevaidis photographed the scarlet streaks in the sky in the early morning of November 22, while he was near the village of Mammari (region of Nicosia).

Although the conditions of photography were not very favorable – it was very cloudy, it was starting to get light, layers of dust obscured the visibility of some parts of the sky – the picture clearly shows the bright pink lines.

Red sprites are a type of electrical discharge. They were first recorded by scientists at the University of Minnesota on July 6, 1989. But reports of observations of this phenomenon have appeared before.

Red sprites occur during active storms at altitudes from 40 to 90 km after a very strong lightning strike. Visually, they look like stripes in the sky or like a bunch of glowing threads. The occurrence of this phenomenon is the result of a local wave of ionization of atmospheric molecules (mainly molecular nitrogen). Under certain conditions during storms, the electric field in the cloud is temporarily amplified and part of this energy is transferred to electrically charged particles in it. They, in turn, transfer energy to the molecules of the atmosphere by impact.

This phenomenon is extremely difficult to observe with the naked eye, as it lasts only a few moments.

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