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The Red Sprite and the Tree

The Red Sprite and the Tree

Copyright: Maxime Villaeys

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. Your Sky Surprise: What picture did APOD feature on your birthday? (post 1995)

Courtesy of NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

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