It’s the image of a rare, brightly colored vertical lightning discharge and it was captured by a web cam this past Wednesday, Feb 24th at the 13,800 ft. level of Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Mauna Kea is one of two towering volcanic peaks on the island – each rising more than 13,000 ft. above sea level.
A series of National Science Foundation’s NOIR Laboratory telescopes are visible in this shot – among them the Gemini North.
In the lower right corner of this image appear two special forms of lightning emanating from the top of a distant cumulonimbius cloud (i.e. “thunderhead”) known as a “red sprite” and a “blue jet”.
The NSF NOIRLab’s release which accompanied the photo reads:
“Red sprites and blue jets are distinctive because of their colors, and also the direction in which they strike. As you can see in this image, the red and blue lights are shooting up from the top of the cloud deck, and are striking out towards space, instead of down towards the Earth.
“It is extremely rare to capture these phenomena on camera and even more so from this unique perspective. ”
Here’s the full NSF NOIRLab release.
Here some videos of blue jets captured around the world: Brazil, Australia, and even from space.
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That was a great image. Rare stuff.